What’s Your Environment?

Usually when I get on the road to start my day, I think about the appointments I have, the tasks that I have to accomplish, and of course the normal everyday things you think about. I tend to do this often especially when the drive is a longer one. I don’t realize the underlying stress that comes with doing this, because it is so normal to me. I have even had coworkers in the truck with me that will get the random thought pass through my lips about some case that happened the day before. I get into work mode and forget that I can just enjoy the ride. What an environment I created!

One of my favorite things to do is to sit out on my back deck and read. It is peaceful, it is warm and I have my own slice of nature around me. Some homes I have visited just exude peacefulness. It’s as if there is a line that is crossed from my truck to their front door. One client/friend has a house in the middle of nowhere (or so it seems) the she and her husband built. The have a long drive that ends at their 3 story log/stone home. You are greeted right away by their donkeys, and then as you park you will get a glimpse of their two peacocks and the pair of geese waddling away. Their spiral staircase leads to the second story that has windows that overlooks the land beyond. The home invites you to stay as well as it’s owners. They have made their “environment” inviting and open.

Another friend of mine has this cabin in the woods. To be honest, just thinking about it spreads a peacefulness through me. As much as I love this cabin I love it’s owner’s more. Their “heart environment” is open, and loving. They are the kind of people that will be there for you. They are strong in their convictions, are kind, loving, and have an inviting way about them. When I visit with them, there is a security in knowing I will not be judge and I can be myself.

All too often my “heart environment” turns cynical instead of loving. I am working on this. When I think about the “environment” I am offering to people I would love for it to be joyous, loving, and a place where they feel safe to be themselves. I can only offer this environment if I have made it available to myself. The only way this can happen is if I chose to let it happen. I have to chose what I allow into my life. I have to chose what I get upset about and how I react to what upsets me. My kids love to see what will ruffle my feathers. At one point they told me they brought up things to me just to see what my reaction would be. When I am at work it’s the hardest for me, since I expect certain work ethics which I sometimes get. I have to chose to give grace and know that my expectations may not be my coworkers reality. I may have different work ethics then they do, doesn’t make one wrong over the other just different. Christ was a leader and He had expectations of His followers. His “heart environment” was joyful, loving and gracious. He is the only example that should be followed when it comes to the kind of “environment” we put out there.

Our “environments” can show people who we truly are. Striving to be the kind of person someone feels comfortable with is goal worthy. When we are stressed, cranky, rude and insensitive people feel it. When we are not genuine people feel it. True colors shine through when you are patient enough to wait. When there is a deep joy, a peace and a lifestyle of acceptance and love, there is strength in that. People feel that and want to be near that, like a good book on the back deck being warmed by the sun. Until next time:

Everything you need is already inside you. Don’t wait for others to light your fire. You have your own matches.

Unknown

Enjoying Along the Way

The alarm clock went off but we were already awake. Charlie was pacing in her kennel waiting to get out and pounce on the toy that was right outside of the door. Jorj lifted his head slightly to look back at me eyes inquiring if it really was time to let his little sister out. Every morning is like this, the alarm goes off, Charlie paces waiting for the moment the door opens, and Jorj seemingly rolling his eyes. We walk them early only because it is the perfect time to get out while the neighborhood seems to still be sleeping. My sweet hubby and I have a chance to talk about the day, the dogs have a chance to smell and re-smell the yards that we pass. We all get our exercise, and to be honest it charges us up for the day.

As we got back to the house there were a lot of things to get done. We were getting ready to go on our annual camping trip to the coast so that meant packing, repacking and checking the list over and over again. To make matters a little more interesting I still had to work for half a day while Tim and two of our three kids left to start the journey west. It is very hard to stay focused on work when you know there is a campfire and crickets waiting to be enjoyed. By the time my middle daughter and I left we had a shopping list of items that were forgotten, a full tank of gas, and the air conditioning going.

One of the things I love the most is getting one on one time with my kids. This time I was blessed to have my middle daughter with me. I was taken to a mythical land were clans of cats co-exist and try and out smart the humans that are trying to take over their homes. There were cats that were in a river clan who lived on an island, there were cats in the wind clan that were agile and fast. Each cat had a certain look and backstory. She described what each looked like and why they were important in the land. We talked about her competition and if she thought she did well and when the conversation ended because she fell asleep I felt so special that I got to have a chance to see the inside of her world. As we pulled into my in-laws house for the night, we unfolded ourselves out of the car, grabbed our food and enjoyed relaxing for a bit, until I suggested we go for a walk.

The walk turned into a bike ride, which meant going up a hill. Lets just say we made it half way up and then had to walk the bikes the rest of the way. We are both in shape so I will blame it on the ice cream we just ate. Getting to the top was so worth it though, because that meant we got to fly down that same hill. There is something about going fast and having the wind in your sails. The thrill of it makes up for the work it takes to get up the hill in the first place. After two more times of “thrill riding” it was time to finally settle in and just relax. The vacation officially starts when we get to the coast but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ourselves along the way.

Tomorrow will bring picking strawberries, watering the plants, doing the last minute shopping, and picking up the surprise cake for my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary. My daughter will finish her competition and then we will be on our way to the best little campsite in Oregon (at least in my mind). There will be conversations and naps, there will be the anticipation of pulling into our designated camping spot for the week. The nieces and nephews will be happy to see us as will my other two kids, the hubby and the dogs. It will be a time to not think about life and just relax. It will be the best that it can be and I can’t wait! Until next time:

Remember,

Most of your stress comes from the way you respond, not the way life is. Adjust your attitude, and all that extra stress is gone.

Unknown

If Only…

As she looked in the mirror and saw the flaws in her body and face she thought to herself “if only”. If only I wasn’t as chunky, if only my eyes were blue and my hair wasn’t starting to turn grey. If only my arms were more fit and my waist was more slim. If only I was smarter and more talented, then maybe, just maybe I would be happier. The critical thoughts hit their mark, making her feel unworthy to do the day ahead, so she fell back into herself and found activities to keep her mind off of what she thought of herself. What she doesn’t realize is the critical thoughts she had for herself are not just hurting her, they are hurting her future self, her family, and the people around her.

What if all of the things she was saying to herself were spoken out loud? What if her teenage daughter overheard her saying these things? What if her husband did? The self criticisms are already screaming at her in her mind and now the people she loves just heard them as well. We are what we choose to be, what we want to believe about ourselves. So if we say we are ugly, then we believe we are. If we say we are not smart, then we believe we are. That doesn’t mean the people around us believe that. What if that teenage daughter thought the world of her mom and looked up to her for how she wants to live her life? What if the husband thinks she is the most beautiful woman in the world and so very smart? And now how he feels about her is thrown back in hi face?

We all have our doubts about ourselves. Things we want to change, things we wish were different. We were made with a purpose though, and those things we want to change and that we want different should not define us. We are our own worst critics. Some ladies were overheard at a restaurant recently talking about an event that happened at their job. One of the ladies was feeling bad about getting upset at a co-worker. Instead of allowing the gal to go further about feeling bad her friends gently reminding her that she is not perfect. That sometimes getting upset needs to happen but it needs to be done respectfully. We are not perfect, which means we need to give ourselves grace.

Some of the best people I know if my life accept who they are, flaws and all and encourage others to do the same. Their lives are not perfect and they are ok with that. I imagine when they look in the mirror they have a different conversation with themselves. I would think they would say things like: “Today is going to be a good day. I will do my best, and I will think the best of others. I will encourage those around me, and I seek out ways to be a blessing to someone I meet. I will love as Christ loves me.” Then they will apply that eyeliner, straighten their outfit and head out into the world. This would be the conversation I would love to have with myself each and every morning. When I look at my family and listen to their conversations, I pray they know they are special. When I have the conversations with myself in the mirror I try and replace the criticisms with affirmations not just for my family, but for myself. How can someone love others when they can’t love themselves?

If only we were kinder to ourselves, then we could be kind to others. If only we saw our bodies as works in progress rather than failures to keep up with what the world says, we would love our rolls, and respect the greys we earned. If only we decided to take care of ourselves spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically, we would be able to love who we are more, thus making it possible to love others. If only we could be selfless instead of selfish, acknowledging the world doesn’t revolve around us. The “if onlys” could define us or confine us, the choice is ours. What “if onlys” are you facing? What would happen if we encouraged who we are vs. discouraged who we are? The world needs more people who are encouragers, who accept people for who they are. We need families that love each other, and support the differences. We need the love that Christ teaches us in 1John 4:7-11:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation of our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Until next time:    

First, know your worth

Second, control your emotions

Third, never settle

Unknown

Winner or Loser

The last days of school are upon us, and most schools do “field days” on the second to the last day of school so that class parties can be on the last day. These field days usually consist of running the track, jumping over hurdles, bean toss games and so much more. Most events are team events in which someone is picked as the leader who then gets to chose who is on their team. As my son was talking about this he made the comment “I wonder if I will be a winner or a loser”. When I asked him to clarify the statement he said you’re a winner if you are one of the first few chosen and a loser if you are a part of the last few kids chosen for the teams. My first response was “oh this is so sad” but in the world of kids this is how they see the choosing process. The kids are not winners or losers in general, but when it comes to what they are being chosen for this is how they are divided up.

In our adult world I would love to say that we are not this way, but we are. It’s different in the sense that it’s no longer winners or losers but is the person going to be difficult or not? Will they have a different view than us? Are they fun loving, and positive? Do they try and stand out or fit in like camouflage?

Think about this for a moment, when you are somewhere like work, and you are with a group of people that flow well together and get stuff done. What happens when the next shift starts to come in, or there is a new person that is getting trained up? The atmosphere changes, the flow is no longer smooth. The change creates a ripple, one that makes the task at hand not as simple to accomplish. When I first started in the vet med world, I was the one causing the change. I was working my way up from picking up poop and cleaning cages to working alongside some of the greats (in my mind) of the vet tech world. The two ladies in particular could have chosen to label me a “loser” someone who would make life for them a bit harder because they would have to train me, or they could do what they did and labeled me a “winner”, someone they saw had potential to learn and grow. When they gave me a chance it made me want to be better, focus more, and learn as much as I could.

As I watch my kids grow, and mature I see them move from the elementary school mentality of “winners and losers” to a more mature way of thinking in which they form educated choices about who needs encouragements vs. who can do things on their own. My middle daughter joined a club early on in the school year that dealt with engineering and science. While in this club she made a friend who became her teammate in a competition they had. The two together became a force to be reckoned with. They encouraged each other, bounced ideas of each other and held each other accountable for things as simple as did you eat food today to as complicated as building a working model for their project. They made each other “winners” by supporting each other.

Negative thoughts and actions create a atmosphere in which people don’t want to go near. People don’t want to be around others that will drain them. When there is a person that blames the world for their problems people shy away from talking or being around them. They would be the ones not chosen for the teams. As hard as it is, they have to create the change needed. They have to want to change. Everyone has their issues to deal with, their “crosses to bear”, including the ones that seem to have it all together. There is comfort in knowing that Jesus says in Matthew 11: 28-30:

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Each and every day we make a choice. We label people worthy or unworthy by they way they look, what they can offer us, what their political or religious views are. The list can go on and on, but the thing we have to remember is that the same people we are labeling are labeling us as well. So what do you want to be known for? Think about that this week. It’s not really about winners or losers, but about who we are and how we chose to act in this world. Until next time:

Don’t forget to love the way you want to be loved, listen the way you want to be heard, give the way you hope others give, care the way you want others to care, because change doesn’t start with them, it’s starts right here.

Madalyn Beck

What’s in a Name?

Back when I started in the vet world I worked at a hospital in which the main vet was called “Doc”. The vet that came on a couple of years later got the nickname “T”. For these women the nicknames were endearing to them. Names identify who we are. Our parents took the time to pick the name and give it to us. It gave us a place, and then when we were given nicknames it determined how important we were to the person who gave them to us.

I absolutely love having Grandma Mary in my life. She has been in my life for as long as my kids have been alive, plus a couple of years. She started out as “just a friend” to being such an important person in my life. She took me under her wing and allowed me into her world, and her family. Her husband became dad, her boys brothers. Over the years I called her Grandma Mary or Momma Mary so much that others started to also call her that. These are terms of endearment for me towards her.

We do this to our pets too. We call our dog their given names less than we call them by the nicknames we have placed on them. My dog Charlie is Baby Girl, Charlie-girl, Puppy, Little Girl you get the idea. She comes to all of them, has no clue which one is her actual name but we love her enough that she gets these names. Jorj, Lilly and Kiki all have numerous names (our other pets) and it would be so simple to just keep with the actual names we gave them but they are what we use to describe them/their personalities.

My hubby and I did this with our kids, heck we did this with each other. I know I have really messed up when he starts calling me by my real name and not the pet name he has given me. Our kids are not as lenient on what we can call them now a days but when they were younger they were probably so confused on what their actual names were. This is probably why now they have limited us to only certain names we get to call them.

On the flip side it drives me absolutely crazy when my kids are mean, and they decide to call each other things like “Boy! or Girl!” In that small gesture they have taken away the identity of the other person for a moment by refusing to use the name given to them. We have such a hard time in the world today because people don’t know who they are. They have been “that girl, or that person” so long that there isn’t a value given to who they are. A Bible study I participated in a while back talked about how we are known by name by God. We have a purpose and are loved. We are important as a person. It doesn’t matter if I am a mom, or a single woman, or a nurse or a friend. How amazing that I don’t have to prove my worth to be known.

In life we are known by our accomplishments. I visited family a little bit ago and for some reason I felt the need to tell them the accomplishments of my kids vs. just saying my kids are doing well, they are loving life and they can’t wait for the summer to start. Christ knows my kids, but he knows them where they are at. With the struggles they have and the blessings that they are. Christ knows each one of us too. To him I am a daughter doing life the best I can, trying to emulate what I know about Him. I make so many mistakes but they don’t change my right to be called His daughter. That gives me worth and creates a value in me that helps me get through the day to day of life. It is that fact that gives me my self worth. Our names are important, our worth is important, and should never be taken from us. Until next time:

All I know is that my life is better when I assume that people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgement and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.

Brene Brown

Help or Hurt

As I was doing my workout this morning, you could tell the trainer loved to talk. He was a very positive person and I am sure if I was actually in the same room with him his energy would be through the roof. Sadly though this was a recorded session on an app, but even with that fact I could feel his energy. As he we was talking he talked about working out our thoughts and words too. He made the comment “when we meet someone, we could do one of two things: help with our words and actions or hurt with them. What a thought to ponder at 7:30 in the morning, but it is something to think about. This thought process goes for the words we don’t say but still are thought when with certain people.

Have you ever been in a work situation in which a new person shows up for their first day, but you have already heard from someone else a negative thing about them? They may not be your words but the words of that person but they still “hurt” this person. Without them knowing they have to actually work a little bit harder to earn the spot on the team. They unknowingly have to work at proving themself more. On the flip side when there is only positive said about a new person, people are willing to believe this person can only do good. The positive words have helped.

My daughter and her team mate won a competition. They had been working on their project for most of the school year. When they were getting ready to present their project they were confident in their work. We as her parents supported her as well as the teacher and their school. Our actions and words helped lift them up. They now have a chance to present their project to a panel on a national level. You can just feel their excitement. What would have happened if they hadn’t gotten the support they got? They could have gotten as far but I honestly don’t think they would have tried as hard to do their best.

When someone believes in you, you can feel it like a warm blanket. The troubles of life won’t melt away but they are easier to get through. Liz was this person to so many people. Liz’s life was not an easy one. She was successful in the eyes of most people. She owned her own business, helped in the community, knew the ends and outs of getting people to notice new businesses or events. She had a way with people that made them know their thoughts were important, and that they were heard. It seemed as though there wasn’t anything that could get past her way of living, other than her physical health.

Liz had numerous health conditions that would have caused the normal person to crumble. For Liz they were like her super powers. She never let them stop her from her many endeavors. She went as far as doing the Iditarod with her top notch crew of huskies. When she finally succumbed to her health issues, her memorial was filled with people who had been touched by her encouragement. Her words and actions encouraged and helped people to find their strengths, learn new skills, start new businesses and love unconditionally. We need more people like her in this world.

Our brains tend to go to the negative in life and about people. We lock onto what we have heard about them, or what is going on. We want to make the situation or person seem worse than what they are to help make ourselves seem better. We judge before we know someone, and think the worst of a situation before we know all the details. Our thoughts when we are not in control of them can spiral into a spin of negativity. We can train our thoughts to be positive and when we do our outlook becomes so much brighter and full of joy. We are healthier, happier and willing to believe in the good of others. We are called to love one another. We have never been called to hate. Our words and actions will lift others up or cause them crash and burn. We are in control of what we do and say, so why not make them positive. Think on this quote and I hope to talk with you soon. Until next time:

Being rude is easy.

It does not take any effort an is a sign of weakness and insecurity. Kindness shows great self-discipline and strong self-esteem.

Being kind is not always easy.

When dealing with rude people. Kindness is a sign of a person who has done a lot of personal work and has come to a great self-understanding and wisdom.

Choose to be kind over being right and you’ll be right every time, because kindness is a sign of STRENGTH.

Unknown

What Chapter are You In?

We have all had those books that we can’t seem to put down. The plot is thick, the main character is about to make a discovery, the truth is about to be told. You just know if you place the book down it will drive you nuts not knowing what will happen next, and so you keep reading as the time slips away. Then there are the books that aren’t that great but still need to be read because then you can move on to the next one in hopes that it will be better. Over the years I have had plenty of both.

Reading is a way to pass the time but what if the book was about your life? What chapter would you be in right now? I love to think about my kids that are in grade school on up to high school. They have so much going on but their lives are just starting. Their lives would be like a mystery novel in which you know the plot but there are so many twists and turns that you become captivated by what could be coming up. Each one has their own story to tell, with each chapter influenced by the world around them. The story becomes more of a living breathing book vs. one that is just pages between covers.

As we grow and mature so do our stories, but the places and events that have happened previously color what is happening now. This is what helps bring the story to life. But what if the plot as we know it starts to get lost. We get so busy, we start out on a certain path that changed somewhere down the line. We became someone we don’t know and lose what we thought we knew. When I was younger I knew for certain that I would be a Christian, who went to college and had a family after I graduated. I did things my way, and thought I knew what was best. As I matured and had accomplishes and struggles the storyline changed. I wanted so badly for the story, the plot to stay the same but experience, people and the world created new chapters in which new adventures awaited. The vibrancy of the words were created by the experiences of the past.

If we saw the people around us as stories being told vs. people to be judged, would we desire to keep reading or toss the book aside because we don’t find it interesting. Ohh the impact this could have! Some people could be as simple as a children’s book with a moral at the end of it, while others are as complicated as a textbook. The world is our bookstore. We browse the shelves picking what we find interesting, so that we can find a place to start reading. My favorite bookstores are the ones in which cozy little nooks are created. They are there to help us get introduced to the story in front of us.

As I finished the most recent book in my Kindle library I pondered the fact that the characters in the story would be great people to know. Though they were fictional they became a part of my life for a short time. I dedicated time to them, I cried and laughed with them. I felt the tension and the pain they dealt with. Their struggles influenced me, even though it was for a short amount of time. My world moved forward without me as I moved forward with the characters of the book. I hated the people they hated and loved those they loved. I wanted to protect who they protected and got to be the “fly on the wall” of their lives. The story made the characters come to life. Our stories make us alive to others. Others come alive to us more when we hear their stories. When we know people’s stories, what made them who they are, it helps us to be who we are, and vise versa.

Who is in your library? What stories did you choose into your life? Did these stories, these chapters cause you to not want to put the book down, or did they make you realize the story is not for you? If the plot feels lost at the moment, it may be time to put the book down but only for a moment so that someone else’s story can help get yours back on track. Until next time:

Sometimes we lose the plot of our own story, sometimes for years. We’re not sure who we are or where we’re going or what the point is.

Then we run across someone who helps us pick up the thread of our narrative again.

Be patient. Some plot lines take a while to make sense

Unknown

Cloudy with Sunshine to Follow

Darkness can only go away when there is light to banish it. The shadows can hide the unknown, but when light is shined into the dark places the fear of the unknown is taken away due to the unknown diminishing. The world has always known fear, uncertainty, and lack of trust. We hear things on the news and go to social media to confirm it. We look at someone who looks a certain way and we cross to the other side of the street. We hear something about someone or some business and think the worst. Instead of looking for the good we navigate to the ugly, the bad. We live in our darkness.

Some live it the grey, it is still a form of darkness. It is like the clouds that appear from seemingly nowhere to block the sun. Our town is known for this type of thing. We step out to beautiful sunshine to have clouds cover it minutes late with a downpour to follow, with sunshine seen just a little ways off. When we live in a grey world we want to have the light but still feel the need to see the world with mistrust. In the last few days there have been awful things that have happened. Lives have been lost and the people that loved the lost have had their lives changed forever. People who were blissfully living in the sunshine, were thrust into the cover of darkness like clouds being blown in by the wind.

In our darkness we need to look for our light. Faith helps guide us, love will sustain us and joy will give us the strength to make it. The little pops of light along the way will bring the warmth needed to defrost us. So how do we find our light? Look for the little things, they will get us over the big things we are battling. This morning I woke up to my Charlie dog so happy to see us awake. She is kenneled at night and when she is let out in the morning she grabs a toy, jumps on the bed and prances around unable to control the wiggle of her tail. She is the light. While at work on Friday I noticed the poppies had started to bloom. These flowers are bright and orange and are the light. My daughter worked really hard on a project, she was given an opportunity to do more with it. We as a family got to celebrate with her and encourage her. That is the light. A coworker had helped in a difficult appointment, when it finished we realized we needed to talk about it which helped us both deal with what happened. That was light shining through.

To me these are the rays of light shining through the storm I am in. My neighbors storm is different than mine and so his rays of light will be different as well. Both of our storms will bring forth life and light. We can appreciate the strength of the storm by seeing the outcome of it. So live because there is no other choice. Go out knowing that storms will come, darkness is there but so is the sun and light. Brighten some person’s day. When you can be the light for someone else, darkness has no way to be there. Until next time:

Don’t forget to love the way you want to be loved, listen the way you want to be heard, give the way you hope others give, care the way you want others to care, because change doesn’t start with them, it’s starts right here.

Madalyn Beck

That’s Not My Job

I cringe just saying those words. When we feel as if we are too good to do a job, then we are too big for our britches. I love to hear of the stories of people who started from the “bottom” and worked their way up to the position they are in. It somehow makes the job more worth it. It most cases it also humbles the person, making them willing to do any job that is put before them because they know it’s how they started out.

As a momma I hear this statement a lot from my kids. My hubby and I have set up a chore list that gets changed out each week, but there are times in which one of the kids will be asked to do something that is not on the list and this is when these words come out of their mouths. It’s a teaching moment for us parents to show them that they can help out the family unit even if they are asked to “go above and beyond” but it is a struggle at times to keep from getting upset when they flat out refuse to do the task. But then when isn’t it a struggle to raise kids. It will humble the most proud of people and at the same time make your heart swell with pride when they show initiative and do something without asking.

All too often I hear the words “it’s not my job” rolling around in my head when I don’t feel adequate enough to do the tasks set before me. This could be parenting, this could be in friendships, in confrontations, in life. I want to hide behind these words when I have feel inadequate, but it’s in these moments that I need to look to the one that is adequate and see where He wants me to go. I recently wrote in my journal about feeling threatened, but not in the normal way people would think. In the threat I faced it was about my inability to see my worth and so I started to see my way of life being threatened by change. I started to doubt my knowledge and skills. I started to think that the people around me didn’t want me around as much so replacements were being sought after. I was being threatened by my own toxic thoughts. The way I imagined myself coping with these thoughts was to spout “that’s not my job” when I knew what I really needed to do was change my thinking. In the children’s book I wrote called “Rae’s New Shine” (coming soon, email me if interested in purchasing), Rae lost her shine because she didn’t feel her worth, she had to change the way she thought of herself in order to get her shine back.

Our “shine” gets blemished constantly. The world throws us curveballs all of the time. If you have teens it’s almost on a constant basis. But if we ground ourselves in knowing who we are, and not what we are (i.e. wife, mother, cook, taxi driver…etc) we can get our shine back. God calls us sons and daughters in Christ. He doesn’t call us “what we do for a living in” in Christ but he does use our talents to help others. We may not be doing the job we thought we would be doing, and we may say “that’s not my job” a lot whether in our minds or sadly out loud, but we are still in the place we are in because we have been put there for a reason. Every day I give my kids back to God, I pray for them, and I love them to the best of my ability. I was not called to be their parent alone though, I have my hubby, friends and family but most importantly I have God who has boldly said “that is my job” He says that to everyone in all situations but we need to chose to say yes to His declaration and stop saying “that isn’t my job”. There is peace in knowing you don’t have to be in control, there is joy in knowing God is. Joy is strength and with strength comes the ability to be humble and do the tasks in front of you. This is living joyfully. Until next time:

All I know is that my life is better when I assume that people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgement and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.

Brene Brown

It’s Coming, I Can Smell It

There is something about the way fresh cut grass helps encourage summer to come, at least in my mind. The smell brings me back to my childhood when the weekends were spent doing things outside. My parents perfected the routine of kicking the kids out in the morning knowing we would keep ourselves busy until the sun came down. If we were not playing and going on adventures with friends my mom would drag out the old lawn mower and place one of us behind it to mow our corner lot. The mowing wasn’t the only thing we had to do, there was edging the lawn and weeding the “garden”. Try as we may our garden had more weeds than flowers but what we did get to grow was resilient to say the least. Most weekends us kids escaped before we were put to work, but not always. Normally on our “work” days the day ended with a BBQ where we ate it outside.

By the time I went to college and had a house I shared with 5 other gals I was a pro at yard work. I didn’t always like it but when I took on the yard that surrounded our house it became more of a calming practice for me. I loved to get head phones in and just start mowing. For a college house we had a huge yard. There were pockets of flowers, trees everywhere and an environment that boasted rain and lots of it. The grass always needed to be mowed. The smell of the fresh cut grass calmed my sometimes turbulent spirit. I used the time outside monotonously going around and around to talk to God. There were in depth conversations as well as conversations about what I had going on for the day. I always seemed to get energized too. The sun has a way of doing that, especially if it hides behind clouds and coastal mist most days. The college I went to was known to have classes outside when the sun was out. It could be colder than snot but we would be out there, basking in the sun’s rays.

I don’t much mowing of our lawn now a days unless I am helping my hubby get caught up on chores. I am hoping that the garden my daughter and I are trying to grow will succeed. So far, the sprouts give me hope. It’s amazing how memories from our childhood can make everyday moments seem better. We get busy, life happens, we get overwhelmed with events around us. I stepped out from work today and found the yard was cut. Some sweet soul came and took care of the jungle that was growing up around our building and it smelled divine. The stress of the day melted just a little bit as I stood eyes closed letting the sun hit my face. We need these moments of peace. We need to stop and enjoy our surroundings. We were not made to go, go, go. God made the world around us so that we may enjoy it, use it for the needs we need met, and to take care of it. He did not make us to run around like a chicken with it’s head cut off, if he did the world around us wouldn’t be something for us to wonder at.

Wonder at the rays of the sun and the warmth they bring. Wonder at the fragrance of the flowers that pop up in the fields. Wonder at the way a bird can glide through the air but use the wind to get them to their destination with ease. Wonder at the way a storm can bring a double rainbow. Wonder at the way a fresh mowed lawn can make you want to pull out the lawn chairs and absorb the energy of the day. We are made to wonder, to enjoy and to praise God for the beauty of it all. Summer is right around the corner. I cannot wait to get “sun tired”. I cannot wait to step outside and not be cold. I cannot wait to stop and smell the grass…..oh and the flowers too. Until next time:

Butterflies cannot see their wings, but the rest of the world can. You. You are beautiful and while you may not see it, others can

Unknown

Colorful Sprinkles

Every morning no matter if it is 6am or 7am, when there is movement on the bed our puppy Charlie gets the tail wagging. She is crate trained and so she sleeps in her crate at night, so mornings are one of her favorite times. She watches for movement of any kind from my hubby or I and she starts with this quiet whine. Then when she sees that it’s working she starts the tail of happiness. Slow and steady at first and then when the door opens it is full force wag. This isn’t her only weapon of choice. She has to have a toy, it doesn’t matter which one but she must have one. Then it’s all out waggle time. Her tail wags so hard her butt moves with it. Then as she is waggling her prance around the room with her toy in her mouth finishes off the routine. Most days we are up and getting ready to take her for a walk with her brother Jorj, but weekends, weekends are the day of snuggling in bed before starting the day.

Charlie is the best kind of alarm clock. It’s not always easy to want to get out of bed much less get the day started. She makes it that much easier. She is my morning sprinkles. My son had his birthday party this last weekend and requested cupcakes. So as he and his friends were carted off to the movie theater to watch his chosen movie my daughter volunteered to make the cupcakes. At first she was going to make the cupcakes black since my son likes to play Dungeons and Dragons but the end result was pink. Go figure? When I asked what happened she said she decided to go with red but got pink instead. The fix to the pink was to add sprinkles.

Sprinkles at the pop to the top of a cupcake, they had the pizzaz to the hot fudge sundae, they are the fun to the whip cream on a fruit smoothy. When we interact with people we can be the sprinkles on top. During tax season one of the businesses has a person out near the road that holds a sign telling people to come in and get their taxes done. This person is suppose to catch your eye with the sign and with their movements. Most of the time it was a person standing there that looked bored and cold, but on most mornings as I drove by I would see this gal just seemed happy. She waved at people but she did it with a smile. That’s adding on the sprinkles!

We do our day by day, day in and day out. Most of us have our routines. Parents work to get kids ready for the day, men and women get ready for work all the time. Kids navigate school, friends, peer pressures as best as they can. Let’s face it we all have stress in some way and capacity. It’s not easy to be the sprinkles for someone else when you feel overwhelmed in your own life. You know what though? Actually adding in the sprinkle time will make your day better too.

This weekend was full of things that needed to get done. It was also full of cupcakes with sprinkles, cornhole with my son and his friends, and a surprise visit to an airport and hour plus away just to see my sister and her hubby before they hoped in a rental car to get to their final destination. This weekend was very tiring, but I am a happier person because of the fun I got to have with other people. I got to be sprinkles for others. There is a time and place for everything. This includes going out of your way to do something fun or special for someone else.

Charlie is an automatic sprinkle spreader. She can’t help it. We can become an automatic sprinkle spreader with practice. Smile at someone you don’t know. Look someone in the eye. Call a friend and say “Hi!” Text someone who may be doing something hard and tell them they are doing a good job. Make some cookies, try a new recipe and invite a friend over. Walk the dog (yes even dogs at time needs some “sprinkles”). There are so many ways to spread joy. We just have to get past what our tunnel vision is to see where more joy is needed. Until next time:

Kindness and joy are free, sprinkle that stuff everywhere!

Oh I know them!

It’s funny sometimes the amount of people I think I should know living in a small town and working in a field in which pets are involved. I walk into the store or go to my son’s baseball practice and realize I don’t know very many people at all.

While at work today it was a different story, I felt like I was at a friend reunion. I saw people I haven’t seen in months while others I had seen a few weeks ago. Knowing people can be a status symbol though. People love to throw names around of people they know that are important in their eyes, when in reality the people are just people who have a certain job or lifestyle.

A friend of mine started her new job this week. I saw her today and saw someone who was unsure of her environment because she was new but knew that once she was able to open up she would do amazing and her co-workers would love her. In my mind she is important and valuable, but if I were to introduce her to a new person they wouldn’t necessarily know that until they got to know her. Something I learned years ago is that those who are known for doing something important in societies standards don’t always want to be put on a pedestal.

This sweet couple I met a few months ago had this awesome dog. The dog was older and not doing as well as he once did in his prime and so when it was time for them to say goodbye to him I was honored to help them. The wife was this sweet gal who wanted to make sure that her husband was supported during this hard time, and was very comforting to him. The husband wanted to make sure his pregnant wife was supported and got the help she needed when their dog needed help going outside or getting cleaned up. They both took care of each other and loved deeply. They came in to our hospital recently with a new dog. They had to wait for some results on tests so they opted to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. This is where I met up with them. They both were as sweet as ever. I gave the gal a big hug and was introduced to their new fur kid. We caught up for a little bit and then I had to head inside.

This couple hold jobs that society deems as important, but that doesn’t matter when it comes to being kind and being loving. When it comes down to it, people are just people. We should treat them as such. Having friends who are pastors, doctors, teachers, stay at home moms/dads, receptionists…etc. It doesn’t matter what their title is, know them for them, not the job title. In a world that deems you important by how many people you know or how much money you have. Being the loudest and the proudest is seen as the best.

The most important people in my life can be loud, and sometimes are too loud, but what really stands out about them is the quiet. The acts of kindness they do for others. The humble nature they have. Their willingness to help others. When I think of these people I proudly say I know them, and it’s not for what society deems important but for what the heart deems as important. I love to say, “oh I know her, she helped me when my husband was oversees” or “oh I know her she was a stronghold when I had younger kids and now that they are older she keeps me sane”. I love that I don’t need to say things like “see that guy, did you know he’s a doctor? I hung out with him a few times” or ” that gal sitting there, did you know she owns that store downtown?” Whose important in your life? Why? Is it because of status or because of the person they are? Staying humble and true to yourself will attract people likewise. Until next time:

You are already amazing, you are already worthy, you are already enough, you are already deserving, you are already blessed, you are already healthy, you are already abundant, you are already loved.

That’s all you need to remember today

Unknown

Fears

What is it about fears that make us so irrational? Having a healthy fear is not bad, it keeps us from doing stupid things like touching a hot stove, or jumping in front of a car. When the fear becomes bigger than our willingness to do something it has too much power.

When I was a kid I loved to play with spiders. I would sit on the front steps and watch them make their webs. I would bring them dinner at times too (though I stopped that when I felt bad for whatever insect I caught tried to get away and couldn’t). As funny as it is I even had a “pet” daddy long leg that lived in my family’s shower. Spiders were not a bad thing in my mind until I saw the movie ”Arachnophobia” in the movie theaters. From there on out spiders had a scariness to me. I could be close to one, if there was one over my doorframe I couldn’t leave the room. If I ended up squishing one, I had to quickly get it off the bottom of my shoe just in case it was still alive. I remember one time helping my best friend clean out her garage and we found a black widow in a box. We burned the box. I have no idea what was in there but it didn’t matter. When I started working in the vet world, a tarantula was brought in for being sick. That was the day I felt brave.

When I couldn’t get it to let go, I admit I was almost in tears until the doctor I was working with “saved” me.

This is just one of many fears that are out there. I have a family member who is afraid he’ll get left behind or forgotten if he gets dropped off somewhere. Some people are afraid of heights, others are afraid of going too fast (like on rollarcoasters). Sometimes there are rational reasons why people have these fears. Some people feel that you can condition these fears out of people. I don’t really know the answer and sometimes it can be frustrating when dealing with someone who is overcome by one of these fears, especially when you can logically show them they’ll be ok.

The Bible says there is no fear in love. We were not put on this earth to be fearful. We are to live. We are to share with others. We are to love others. We can’t do these things if we are constantly allowing a fear or fears keep us planted where we are. When my kids were younger I tried to show them what it was like to take healthy risks. So they learned that helping others was ok. They learned that doing sports was ok or taking dance lessons was ok. They saw their dad and I take risks, we were scared sometimes but we didn’t let fear overpower us.

As I am sitting at my son’s baseball practice, I am watching him be brave. This is out of his comfort zone. He thought he would be playing on the same team as his best friend, but instead he is on a team that he didn’t know anyone the first day. He has mandated that I wait at the field for the whole practice due to another fear he has, but even if I couldn’t stay and watch, he has shown that he is ok. My best friend has to be brave, she has fears coming at her left and right. Her daughters look to her for guidance and she happily gives it to them. I know she has said ”no” to the, before when it comes to trying new experiences but it is rare. She does not have an easy life but she does not allow her fears to stop her from living her best for herself and her family.

Fears are roadblocks we put in front of ourselves. They either have the spikes that deflate our tires or they are ones that with a little extra strength we can master and overcome them. I pray for my kids often. I want them to have strength that comes from joy which ultimately comes from love. There is no fear in love, and love has joy wrapped around it. This is where we get our strength, our patience, our boldness, our humility. Imagine how much better our lives would be, our world would be if we allowed love (joy) to rule us instead of our fears. Until next time:

Negativity is contagious. Unhappiness is contagious. Fear is contagious. But so is happiness. So is optimism. Some is love. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. And strive to be a reflection of what you want to receive.

MichellCClark


Best Laid Plans

Ahhhhh, the weekend is here, time for things to get done. The work week was long, after work meant family time and of course the ever present game practices, church and other “outside of the home” activities. Weekends are to get caught up on life. There’s a lawn to mow, a garden to plan, and meal prep for the coming week. This was the plan, we were supposed to stick to the plan. Until we couldn’t, enter the stomach bug.

All was good Friday night, then early Saturday morning my stomach said some things that shouldn’t have been said. It protested and cried, so I protested and cried and ended up on the couch most of Saturday, trying to figure out what I did to make my stomach so mad. I have some thoughts of what happened but at the end of the day it didn’t really matter, I had to nurse my poor stomach back to health. So the plans I had were laid aside. Step in my family. My family is pretty wonderful as it is. We don’t always get along, we fight sometimes but when push comes to shove we pull together to take care of each other.

My hubby stepped in the most yesterday. My eldest daughter had to go to work, which is usually something I do, but he made sure she got there. I slept. My son fed the animals and played with them, I slept some more. My middle child laid low so that I could rest, which I did. By Saturday night not all of the things we wanted to get done got done, but I was given the time to rest, and food was brought to me when I felt I could eat it.

Sunday I was much better and all those plans for the weekend didn’t all get done but that’s ok. Sometimes I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to get this or that done. We already have the pressures of work, family and life why do we feel the need to add more? We are one of the only countries in which it is a status symbol to be busy, to be worn out. How is this a good thing? No wonder we have more illness, more anxiety, more irritations. Don’t get me wrong, we need to push ourselves, but we also need rest. I was talking to a gal the other day that at one point had too jobs, her husband worked and she was homeschooling her kids. There is no break in that. I couple of years ago, I was doing that (other than the homeschooling part) and I was WORN OUT! At that point I realized that I needed a rule. So I set a rule that said the weekends were for me and my family. I didn’t work, I didn’t take phone calls from work (and almost anyone else) and I did the stuff that needed to be done for me and my family.

This rule isn’t 100% guaranteed to be set in stone, but it did make were best laid plans could be altered. Family trips could be planned, and I could be me without the stress. Sometimes it takes mentally telling myself to turn off parts of my brain so that I can be creative, fun and there for myself and family. This week is promising to be busy again. I thrive in busy but only because I know that I have a break coming at the end of the week. Best laid plans are just that, plans. Rest is needed and very important. How lovely to thrive to be more stable: God/family/work/rest. I for one don’t want to be know for how busy I am, I would rather be known for how kind I can be, how joyous I could be, how loving I could be. How about you? Until next time:

Be the kind of person who isn’t afraid to ask someone if they are ok twice, if they say they are, but look like they aren’t. Be the kind of person who smiles at people even if they don’t smile back. Be the kind of person you wished for when no one was there for you. Be the kind of person who is brave enough to stand alone in a crowd for what is right. Be that person because we need more people like that in the world. Be that person because people like that are rarer than the rarest diamonds and gold.

Nikita Gill

Inner Dialog

A few weeks ago I wrote a book. I geared it to be for kids. I wrote it for people like me. This book sits in my computer’s saved file. Will it ever see the world? Time will tell. This book is about self worth. About finding your shine. It’s about being strong when you don’t feel like it. It’s about being kind when inside your head you are not kind to yourself. It’s about being bold enough to still go on in with your day even if everything feels off. It’s about being humble but still acknowledging that you have worth. It’s about being proud of the things you have accomplished without being full of pride and thinking that you are better than anyone else. It’s a book that I should read daily.

Be Strong, but not rude.

Be Kind, but not weak.

Be Bold, but don’t bully

Be Humble, but not shy

Be Proud, but not arrogant

Jim Rohn

Our brain is a wonderful thing. It will adapt to the thoughts we have. If we make it a point to be more positive and to think more positive we will start to have a more positive outlook. We all know that person who seems to go through life not letting anything really bother them. They seem at peace with the world around them. They don’t have an easy life per say but they have chosen to take it day by day, hour by hour. On the flip side we all know that person who seems to have a chip permeantly on their shoulder. Life is hard, people are hard, nothing is their fault and the world owes them something. Two ends of the spectrum and most of us fit in the middle. We have good days and we have bad days.

Our inner conversations are what guide our outlook. When I first wrote my book, I needed to hear the words that I had written. I good friend of mine had confronted me about not being approachable at work. She knows me pretty well and can tell if I am off, even if I don’t know it myself. She is also the person that will tell me I am good at what I do and that I am a good person. She is an encourager with a hint of realism. She doesn’t let my head get to big for my shoulders if you know what I mean. What I took from her conversation with me is that I don’t know my worth. My inner conversations with myself hold doubt, fear, mistrust in some people, and pride. My inner conversations also hold love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self control. What I chose to listen to is how my outlook of myself becomes.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him (Jesus) because He first loved us. 1 John 4:18-19

We were made who we are to be who we are. Our thoughts we have can be changed to joyful, encouraging thoughts. These then can be used to create a community in which we lift each other up. God made us in His image, God is love, and so we are love. There is no fear in love. Fear brings in self-doubt, a prideful mentality, a tear down of who we are, jealously and envy towards others. Love brings the opposite. It helps us to be bold, humble, kind, proud, strong. We need to be love more than anything else in this world. It will make us shine! Until next time:

Six ethics for life: Before you pray-believe, Before you speak-listen, Before you spend-earn, Before you write-think, Before you quit-try, Before you die-live

William Arthur Ward

Spring Joys

This week was filled with ups and downs, highs and lows, all a part of life in general really. I absolutely love the spring season. The flowers and trees start to bloom out, I start to get excited about the upcoming garden that I know will just be amazing this year (despite not having a green thumb). Life just seems to come alive again after the cold winter months drive it into hibernation, or for us humans inside where it is warm.

This spring season brought baseball into my sons life. He wanted to start playing because his best friend was playing, so we signed him up. We went out and bought him the gear. We talked to his best friend’s mom and made plans for them to go to their practices together after school. We arranged the calendar and our lives to be busy every weekend until summer. We were set. Winter took our plans and shook them up a bit though. After the teams were made (my poor son ended up on a different team then his friend) and the first practice was to take place, storm number one came to town. And just like the postal service, rain or shine the kids practiced. I stayed in the car where it was warm. My son is at his second game today. It really is fun to watch the kids learn and grow in a sport. It’s fun to sit in the bleachers and dream about how far your kid will get in the sport they have chosen to try. It’s fun to cheer them on, even if at the moment their only goal is to try and hit the ball.

My “garden” was started a few weeks ago with some seeds from the local store, some raised beds build for the garden out front and some high hopes that maybe, just maybe this year I will have more than just one cucumber and a head of lettuce. I have a secret weapon this year though. My middle child said she wanted to help. She went with me to the store, helped build the beds, researched with me on how to start the garden inside so that we could transplant them outside. She even offered to keep up with the watering of the seeds. We were smart enough to make a backup plan though. Self watering pots! They have been a lifesaver, seriously, I think we have seedlings purely for the fact that they were put in the self watering pots. It’s easy right now, the plants are inside. After Memorial Day they’ll get moved outside, which means out of our line of sight. Dear Lord, I hope we got sturdy plants!

Spring has a way of putting a “spring” in my step. I get energized, and feel like I can take on whatever comes my way. Joy comes bubbling up. There are times when it feels like life in general has seasons. I have heard people describe times in which they felt they were going through a cold spell, or a dry season. Spring is new life, new opportunities, new joys. My husband loves to hang clothes on the line, it brings with it a smell that just emulates joy. Today he turned the heater off and opened the doors and windows. There is a slight breeze but the sun is out at shining bright. The temperature is still a whopping 60 degrees, but it feels heavenly compared to the wind/snow/rain/20 degree mixture we have had the last couple of weeks. The dogs got to go on a run this morning with me, the yoga mat was thrown aside, instead the deck was my yoga place.

Joy comes in the small things sometimes. The smell of laundry hung on the line. The crack of the ball hitting the bat. The garden that is starting fresh. The sweet nap of a happy puppy. There will always be highs and lows in life. Even when you feel you can’t find the joy in the moment, you just go into your memory bank and think of the smalls that have brought joy to your life. The memories won’t fix the lack of joy but they will help enhance the moment you are in. Until next time:

The things you believe to be your limits will disappear as soon as you move closer to them

Unknown

Sizzle in the Air

Ruth woke up early just as she did every morning. She had the goats to feed, and the donkey and her colt had to be let out into the back field to graze. She knew if she didn’t hurry she would miss out on the breakfast her mom had already started to prepare. Ruth dressed quickly and splashed some water on her face hoping it would help her to wake up. Once outside the coolness of the morning woke her up the rest of the way. The farm always seemed busy, always had some sort of smell and noise that came along with it, and today was no different. Once her chores were done she went inside just in time to see her mom put the last bowl on the table.

The rest of the day was Ruth’s so she went to go see if her friend Sarah could play. Ruth knew that if her dad or one of her older siblings caught her doing something that wasn’t work they would put her to work as quickly as they could. She was very good at not being seen, which seemed to work in her favor. As Sarah and Ruth played they noticed a large crowed coming down the road that led to Jerusalem. The townspeople also noticed and stopped what they were doing to watch. Sarah and Ruth were so curious they ran to the road to get a closer look. That’s when Ruth noticed the donkey. It looked really familiar but when Ruth noticed a man sitting on it she thought it couldn’t be her family’s donkey until it got closer and she saw that it was. The donkey was the colt her family owned so why was this man riding it? Ruth ran home to tell her dad what she saw. When she walked through the front door she heard her brother telling her dad that when the two men started to untie the colt, he asked them what they were doing and they said “The Lord is in need of it” and so he let them take it. How odd she thought, but what did she know she was just a child. Little did she know how the world would change in the days to come.

Still pondering what she saw the day before Ruth did her chores again, but this time she noticed something different about the day. At first she couldn’t put her finger on it until it hit her, the world seemed quiet. Not a normal quiet, a quiet in which even the animals didn’t seem to make a noise. It was almost as if the land and all living things did not make a peep. Not only was that strange to her but there was a feeling in the air like all things were holding their breath waiting for something to happen. Ruth wondered if it had to do with the rumor heard about the man she saw on her family’s donkey yesterday. She overheard her neighbor say he was charged with doing something awful, but didn’t understand the word used. How awful it would be to die on a cross! Whatever was going on created a current in the air like when lightening is close by, it was enough of a fear for Ruth that she decided she was better off inside with momma.

Dinner that night brought only talk about what was happening in Jerusalem. It seemed to be the only thing on everyone’s mind. The man hung on the cross was said to only be a carpenter from a small town but he was charge with saying he was God’s son. The only thing that was talked about more was the strange things happening all around. The darkness, the earthquake, it all seemed so strange. By morning all seemed to be “breathing” again. The world woke up energized. As strange as the day before being silent, this new day was louder than any time Ruth could imagine. It felt as if even the rocks were making noise. The talk now around the village is that the man that was hung had been buried but this morning the guards woke to the tomb being empty. How could that be? Even when Ruth asked her momma she was surprised that a grown up didn’t know, but Ruth knew even as a child that her life would never be the same.

Easter Sunday brings shouts of “He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!” Easter is the hope of all Christians, it gives us hope in what is to come. It’s the day before when Christ was buried that should be noticed as well. The world was silent, God was silent. It’s as if all living things had collectively sucked in a breath and held it, waiting for the “what’s next?” to be answered. To have the collective release of that breath the next day with the empty tomb. God was silent, but he was still Present. In the times in which we feel alone or when life feels like it has left us mangled and beaten we may feel as if God is silent in those moments but He is there. We just have so much noise going on in our heads, that we miss the quiet movements of strength surrounding us. Easter is hope, and in that comes joy. Until next time:

He is not here; He has risen, just as He said.  Come and see the place where he lay     Matthew 28:6

That’s Not What I Wanted To Hear

When I was younger it never failed, I would get up in the morning, run to the standing heater and try and wake up. While in the midst of trying to warm up/wake up my mom (who had been up for hours) would start to list off the things she wanted me to do that day. It would take all my willpower and strength not to growl and spear her with daggers coming from my eyes. I definitely did not want to hear what she had to say. She wasn’t purposely trying to have me glare at her but she was already in “go mode” for the day and was subtlety trying to get me there too.

My dad did this too but in a different light, whenever we went on vacation to Yosemite National Park (which was almost every summer of my childhood) he would let us know that every other day while there we would be doing a hike. Most of the time these hikes were all day and meant that we would have to get up early and do a bunch of switchbacks in the sun. I know there was grumbling and growling going on, but it never changed his mind, and we always ending up on a mountain.

As time went on, and my family grew my kids were receiving the same treatments I got. When chores were not getting done, there would be reminders. When we went on vacations that had mountains involved we would end up on a hike. When school work needed to be done, we would tell them about the reminders we would get emailed to us. These were things they most definitely did not want to hear about.

One of my hubby’s favorite things to say to me is “next time….” and then he would tell me a way I could do something better next time that I had talked to him about. He never meant these “next times” to be annoying, he actually would be trying to help, but man would I get so upset when he threw the “next time” in there. I didn’t want to hear what he had to say, because that meant that I didn’t do it good enough the first time.

The people we have in our lives are there to help us, whether it’s to help us see we need to move on or move up in our own growth. When my momma would list off the chores I needed to get done she was teaching me responsibility. Yes, letting me wake up would have been better, but I learned that she trusted me to get done what she asked. When my dad told us of the hikes we were going to do, they sounded nearly impossible for someone that was “young” but those are the memories I cherish the most. If I would have refused to go and defy him I would have missed out on the packed lunches on the side of a river. I would have missed out on the views of the valley on top of a waterfall. I would have missed time spent with my family that instilled in me the importance of family strength. Don’t tell my hubby this but if I would have just set my pride aside and listened to his “next times” I would have had an easier time doing some of the tasks that I was doing.

This past weekend was Palm Sunday. Jesus was going into Jerusalem on a donkey. The religious leaders were telling Him he needed to quiet His disciples because they were celebrating too loudly. They did not like that they were seeing the Old Testament prophecies coming true before their eyes. Because they did not like what they were seeing and hearing they were going to miss out on what Jesus was offering. They had no power to change what was happening. They tried everything, and would be ordering His death soon. Even in that, the most unthinkable thing to happen, would not stop what Jesus was doing, and they would miss out because they did not like what He was about.

I would hate to miss out because I didn’t like what was being said, or if I didn’t like what was going on. In my life I would have missed out beautiful views because of a hard hike. I would have missed out on learning because I didn’t want to open my ears to listen. I would love to say that if Christ told me to go I would go without hesitation. My faith isn’t as strong as I would like it to be though. I am getting there, I am trying to listen and I am trying to obey. I would hate to find out that I missed out on something so life changing all because I didn’t want to take the time to stop and be still while He whispers. Listening and hearing are too different things. Listening and acting on what we hear is what shows maturity and humility. Who wouldn’t want to have these qualities? Until next time:

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.     Romans 15:5

Overwhelmed?

There was just a little time before the next appointment came in. There were phone calls to be made, medication scrips to be filled and hospitalized patients to be taken care of. There was questions to be answered and receptionist to get back to. Online orders to be filled and so on and so on. To top it off my oldest texted saying that she was not feeling good and I was thinking how bad would it look to have my hubby take off to get her from school when it’s his last day of work. I had a tow truck company scheduled to “break into my work truck” to retrieve the keys I locked inside decide that they would come earlier than scheduled and “oh by the way, is there someone that could meet us at the truck?” The list could go on and on especially if I added in the last two days but I won’t. I can’t even say that I am upset about the events that have been happening, I can say I am a bit overwhelmed.

None of the above is meant to be complaining. Most of this is what happens on an average day at this thing called life. When days like these happen the cracks that might be in the exterior shell of my sanity can either grow bigger or they can be held tight by the strength that is found in the deep down joy that has been given to me. The struggle is real, when choosing to complain or choosing to celebrate in the trials. It is so much easier to go along with the crowd and find the negative. When there is that one person that is always used to place blame on, it makes the blame that should be yours “easier” to bear.

This past weekend my daughter and went to a training at our church. We are a part of the children’s ministry program teaching the “educated toddlers” as my daughter calls them. We have the joy of spending every other Sunday with 3-4 year olds. Man if there is a class that can teach you about joy or complaining it would be this class. While doing our training though we were being taught how to teach the kids we were with, but the main thing was to show them they are important and loved. As the pastor was talking I thought about what it meant to show the kids I taught that they were important. This sent be down memory lane to when my dad used to work in the toddler room at the church we used to go to.

Growing up, my dad was the breadwinner, he would go to work every day, come home and would want to relax. We knew he loved us and he tried to show us in different ways his love. Sometimes it was small gifts he brought home, other times it was having us play the computer games with him. He was our solid foundation. We knew dad would always be there for us and he was. As we got older and started doing our own things he started to work in the church toddler room. He would usually show up before the kids got there and would get the toys ready, and as they started to get dropped off he would say hi to them and then go back to playing with the toys around him. Eventually the kids would notice that he was playing with toys and go to him. A lot of times they were unsure, but every time he worked he would do this same thing. As time went on the uncertainty of what he was doing wore off and by the time the parents came to pick up their children he had kids in his lap, and kids sitting around him all playing with the toys he himself had been playing with. He showed the kids in that classroom love by consistently being there, not being pushing about what he was doing and patiently waiting for them to come to him.

His method worked almost every time. He told me once that he started to work in the toddle room more and more to give the kids there the attention he would have loved to have given us when we were younger. My dad did his best when we were kids. I can bet he was overwhelmed more than we knew and he never let us see it. When my dad was in that room full of kids he loved on them, and let them know they were special to him. He showed them who Christ was every time he showed up.

This past week was overwhelming, this past weekend it would have been so nice to skip the training grab a book and stay in all day reading. Instead I went, I learned, I grew and I was blessed. I was able to learn again from my dad. I was reminded that the God I serve is so humble that he had a “triumphant ride” into Jerusalem on a donkey colt that had never been ridden. There were so many times that Jesus could have said “I am too overwhelmed for this” but he didn’t. The strength he had to go through all he did was from the deep down joy He had and the ability to show us we are important and loved. How great is that! We don’t have to do this alone. Find your strength from the joy inside you, it’s there you just have to allow it to permeate your life. Until next time:

I don’t want to adult today. I don’t even want to human today. Today, I want to Goat. Gonna eat all day and head-butt anyone who tries to stop me.

Unknown

What’s your worth?

One day a young lady woke up and she knew something was different. She got out of her bed the same way, made her breakfast the same way and got ready for her day the same way. Something still felt off. When she stepped outside to walk to school that’s when she first noticed the difference. Though the sun was shining it never let it’s rays fall on her. All the people and places around her were surrounded in the sun’s rays but she could never seem to get warmed by them. It was like she was walking with a cloud or a shadow above her. When she got to school she thought for sure the lights inside the building would shine on her like everyone else, but sadly even inside there was a dimness around her that only she could see and feel. She tried to ignore what was happening. She tried to go about her day as if she were the same as everyone else, but eventually the dimness started to get to her. She started feel anxious and fearful that maybe something wasn’t right. She didn’t know what to do and she hoped that the next day would be normal again. Sadly though, the next day and the day after that were the same, she seem to just stay in this world of grey, as if she didn’t deserve the brightness of the light.

After the third day of this she got on her knees and prayed. She knew she should have done this sooner but she was so worried about what was wrong that she forgot to ask the one person who could tell her. Her prayer wasn’t a special eye opening prayer but a simple one in which she asked that her heart and ears be open to hear what she needed to hear. While reading a book before bed she remembered something. A day before she was put into the dimness she had shown her friends and family a painting she had done that she was proud of but she had never been too sure of her skill. Those who saw it praised her and told her how wonderful it was. If someone were to ask any one of them they would say that they were not surprised at the talent the girl had. Even with the praise and the encouragement to keep doing more paintings the girl still didn’t believe in herself. She just thought they were being nice. She didn’t know her worth. She wondered if this memory was there to help her understand the predicament she was in.

The next she talked to her mom, she told her what was going on and that she didn’t know what to do. The girl really wanted to be back in the rays of the sun, she wanted to be back in the same light as everyone else. She even told her mom about the day she showed everyone her painting. As she finished talking she noticed that her mom had this simple smile on her face. She invited her daughter to sit with her on the porch. As gently as she could the girl’s mom hugged her and said with love “my child, you don’t know your worth, and that is why you are not shining as bright as you could” It wasn’t that the sun’s rays were not shining on the girl, or that the lights in the building at her school were more dim when she walked through them. The girl did not know her worth and so she started to see the world around her as more bright because to her everyone else had more to offer. Once she started to believe in herself, once she started to understand and see what others saw in her, once she understood the love that God had for her and the talent He gave her, the dimness would start to fade away. She would start to see herself as brightly as what she saw in her environment.

We so easily become this girl. A new person gets hired on at our job to learn to do the job we are doing, our light gets dim. A lie is told about us, our light grows dim. Someone does something better than us, our light grows dim. We mess up, we fail at something, we fall, all these things will cause our light to grow dim. When this happens the world around us seems to be brighter and we just can’t seem to understand why we can’t get into that light. We are our own barriers. When we know our worth, when we know that God loves us and wants our lives be filled with joy, we have strength. We can go through hard times and failures and still shine just as bright as those around us if not brighter. We are all unique, just as we should be. How boring this world would be if we were all the same. When we shine bright because we are confident in who and whose we are we can share our brightness with people around us. It really doesn’t matter if we are an adult or a child, there are times when our shine isn’t as shiny. It’s in these moments we need to seek God and see if we fell into the trap again of not accepting our worth. The world is a beautiful place filled with sparkling, shining people accepting who they are and helping others to find their sparkle too. Do you shine brightly, or do you walk around in a world that needs more light? Until next time:

…and today is the day, stand out, stand up, stand your ground. Be the “who” that you are and be proud, and when you feel that you can’t make a sound, right there is the time when you’re supposed to get loud. Wake up, get up and do something.

Excerpt from a song on the radio

Laughing often

Sitting around the table in my grandma’s kitchen meant that there was food nearby. Most of the time the food was a dessert of some sort brought by one of my relatives. We loved to sit together and visit while eating. There didn’t have to be a specific reason for the visit and it didn’t really matter if the dessert was cookies, cakes, or pies we would eat and talk. A big part of the visits was laughter. Our family isn’t quiet in general but when you added laughter to the mix you could hear us from a block away. It was addicting and looking back I now understand why my mom never wanted to leave the conversations to take us somewhere (usually it was to the mall so we could walk around and do nothing).

One of the greatest sounds I remember was laughter. One of my aunts had the loudest laugh ever! I knew she was there though even if it was from a mile away. She just had that way about her. I think of her now as the glue that held our family together and she still does today. My mom used to take us over to her house and we would hang out with her for the day. It seems that she always had somewhere to be and if she didn’t she would plan for us to go somewhere. We would pile into her bright yellow bug and zoom to the desired destination. I think the biggest thing about her is that she incorporated laughter and joy into her day.

That sticks with you. Our brains are programed to either respond to fear or joy. When we allow our minds to work as they should we start to be on the lookout for joy. Fear brings the responses of fight, flight, or freeze which as we all know cause us to close up shop and not look for anything remotely joyful because we are so focused on the fear. You know what happens when you can’t seem to find joy in the moment? Our brains will try and go back to our memories of joyous times. The more memories we have of joy and the more times we find joy in our lives the more our brains are filled with it.

There are days when I don’t even have time to sit down for lunch, these are the days I come home exhausted and in a state of wonder on if I did anything productive during the day. These days are also the days in which I try and do too many things at once. I have too many things on my brain, my thumbs hurt from all the texting, and my emotions are fried because I couldn’t be everything for everyone all at once.

Then I have the days, usually when I take myself away from the crazy life, in which I can see the beauty around me. I can enjoy the conversations with my kids, and my hubby. I put the phone down and I am in the moment. I am not trying to do 50 things at once. These times are when I find my laughter. I love that my laugh is as loud as my aunt’s. I love that when I worked at the “Happiest Place on Earth” my boss used to tell me that I had to quiet down my laughter because he could hear me all the way across the park. When I purposely look at life around me, joy pops up because I am not ignoring it with business.

As living human beings joy is healthy for us. Science has proven it over and over again. Think of the last time you were with a group of people that you just had pure fun with. Laughter was probably a big part of it. My family wasn’t always happy per say, but we had lots of moments of joy. Life isn’t easy as a grown up, but there are lots of moments of joy. Joy is from God. He created us to not live in fear but in joy. This doesn’t mean we are always happy, but it does mean we can trust and rely on the One who designed us. Today find some joy. If you have a pet, take time to love on them. Go for a walk without your phone. If joy is hard to find, think to a memory that was joyous for you. The world is hard to live in sometimes, so we have to do our part to keep joy centerstage. Until next time:

Research has shown laughing for two minutes is just as healthy as a 20min jog. So now I am sitting in the parking lot of the park giggling at all the joggers.

The Fear of Failing

Sixteen years ago there was a twinkle in our eyes. We had been married for 3 years and were just barely starting to get into the habit of being married. We were just the two of us. We managed to keep the furry kids alive without too much damage to their mental health, so we thought maybe starting a family would be a good idea. Our oldest daughter joined us, coming into this world knowing nothing and depending on us for her every need, including keeping her safe and healthy. There was a healthy fear of failing mainly due to the fact that there was no instruction manual that came with her. We knew the basics, she eats and drinks therefore she has to poop and pee. She is active therefore she must sleep. She will cry therefore we have to comfort and provide security for her. We could say that we succeeded in the basics. The failure came in the extras, but with the failures came times of growing and learning. We as parents were far from perfect in the decisions we made but we know that she felt loved and was loved.

As we are about halfway into her sixteenth year, she now has two siblings and is now showing us how to better take care of her. There is still the need and the obligation to push her though. The fear of failing is huge. There are two teenagers in the home now and the youngest will be one in a couple of years. The internet and social media are major influences in the lives of our teens and have already told us and proven to us that we have failed. My oldest has this fear of driving. She got her permit a couple months ago and made a plan for herself to get her license before winter next year so she wouldn’t have to walk to school. It’s a great plan, it’s a plan we can help her with. It’s a plan that will not get off the ground if she won’t get behind the wheel. It’s a plan that will fail if she can’t get out from behind the fear.

The pastor today talked about wearing the armor of God. The thoughts, and fears and attacks that we do to ourselves could be stopped if we just wore the helmet of salvation. We would know our worth if we had on the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, sword of the spirit, and the belt of truth. We are our worst critics and instead of listening to the world around us and going to the word of God instead we would have more weapons at our disposal to take on the attacks against us. My eldest doesn’t think she can drive safely, yet she does well when we do get her behind the wheel. As a momma I have to remind myself that I am not a failure when my kids choose a path that I might not have chosen for them. As a mom I am called to fight for my kids, I am learning the only way to do this is on my knees talking to God.

I have a fear of failure. I don’t like the feeling of failing. Everyday I know I fail at something. It is only because I am far from perfect. I know that from my failures I will learn. Just as my daughter will learn to drive, I will learn from what I did not get right. Joy comes from not being perfect. Imagine if every morning there was a mandate that you had to give up something special to you for every failure you had that day. I would stay in bed. Our bodies physically would not be able to handle the amount of stress trying to be perfect would put on us. Did you know that our bodies respond to when we are stressed, depressed, and in pain? It sounds like a silly question but our bodies even respond to the failures that we have. Our immune systems aren’t as strong, our mental capabilities to take on things lessen, we don’t have as much energy to do things. The flip side is when we know we can’t be perfect and when we embrace the fact that we will fail but can grow from them, our bodies are healthier. We look at life differently because we know we don’t have to constantly prove to ourselves and others that we are perfect.

Having failure built into the learning process and allowing ourselves to get used to failing will take away the fear of failing. If we know our worth in Christ, we don’t have to worry about what we look like to the world. We can fall on our face just to get right back up to keep going forward. Failure no longer is a bad word. Joy comes from knowing that I wasn’t called to be perfect, I was called to be willing. I am a momma to my three kids because I was willing, and because I was willing failure comes with it as well as succeeding. My daughter will fail many times before she gets comfortable with the life skills she has to learn, but she will also succeed in them. Fear is a powerful force, but being loved by God and knowing your worth is much more powerful. Until next time:

Ego says, “Once everything falls into place, I’ll feel peace.”

Spirit says, “Find your peace, and then everything will fall into place”

Marianne Williamson

Expectations

Those who know me know I hate to be cold. So the fact that there were a couple of days in the near future that were going to be warm, I was excited. I even took a day off from work so that I could enjoy the warmth. I am the kind of person who when I get something in my head that I want to do I will work to make sure it happens. These warm weathered days that were coming meant that I would be outside. I would exercise outside, I would take my motorcycle out for a spin, I would stand outside and soak up the rays for as long as I could. These warm days are the first ones to show up after a winter that always seems too cold for my liking. I had expectations and they were going to be met!

My bike ride started out well. It was the first one in a little over a year so I did some side streets to get myself acquainted with riding again. It felt good to be on the bike, I had my visor up and the world felt like it was whizzing by me at 40 mph. My first stop was to drop off something for a client. There is something about pulling up to a house and having the occupants not grasping that the rider of the motorcycle is here for them. It’s a bit thrilling in a small sort of way. My next stop was to the clinic to feed the clinic cats. I know what you are thinking “I thought this was your day off?” Yeah it was, but I still had to take care of some of my responsibilities. This is where things didn’t quite go as planned. I was was trying to turn right from a stop sign and I lost my balance and “laid my bike down”. Nothing but my pride was hurt but man it is hard to stand up a 500 pound bike. I got my bike back up right as a guy pulled up to help. Not exactly what I expected but in the end it worked out.

Expectations are weird things sometimes. You think things will go a certain way, you hope that people will act differently, you have the way you think things should go all planned out in your mind but then they don’t end up that way. My hubby had a plan this spring break, he was going to get the kid’s bathroom painted and the floor fixed. He even took two days off from work to get this done. As day three is coming to a close the bathroom is 85% done and as he is working on this project the animals and I are doing our part to stay out of his way. When he gets a plan set in his mind it’s best to let it happen that way. Helping could be harmful to your health. I love my man, and I know this about him and so I do my part to keep him sane. When we were a younger married couple I had different expectations of how we would do projects together. I learned quickly that you help only when asked, you don’t just jump in and expect to know what is needed. This sounds simple enough, but when you think you are a good helper and you’re actually not, it makes for frustration projects.

Life is full of ups and downs, rights and lefts. It really is like riding a roller-coaster. There is a thrill in the ride, there is a joy in the ride especially when you do it with people you love. There is the stomach falling to your knees feeling though that can really make you sick to your stomach. These are the areas in which the expectations of life don’t always go as planned. When on the ride though, you can’t just “skip to the good part”, you have to go through the plunges as well as the twists and turns. Know your people, and know your God and the rest is history. Love and joy go hand in hand. Expect the best but plan for unexpected adventures along the way.

I will have more bike rides in the glorious sun. My hubby will have more projects that he will plan and finish in the way he wants to. Family life will have ebbs and flows like the ocean. Work life will have people who give their all while others don’t give as much. Money will be spent, and food will be eaten, and life will go on. Faith, joy and love will remain steadfast. Life is full of expectations. We all will see them through different lenses. That is what makes us who we are. I may not always like what happens but I know that joy will help keep me strong. Until next time:

Negativity is contagious

Unhappiness is contagious.

Fear is contagious.

But so is happiness.

So is optimism.

So is love and joy.

Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. And strive to be a reflection of what you want to receive.

Michell C Clark

Change is a Constant

No sooner than the thought entering his mind did the tile floor start coming up. The shower rod was taken down, and the mirror was leaning up against the wall. The kids were taken over to their grandparent’s house for spring break so change was inevitable. The bathroom that the kids use has been bugging my hubby for quite some time. The walls need new paint and the floor needed to be fixed. We get it into our heads that projects need to happen when spring break comes along and so that is what we do. Change is a constant it seems.

Home improvement projects aren’t the only things that seem to be changing though. Facebook has a way of showing us how much we have morphed into the people we are today. The only reason really that I look at Facebook these days is to see the memories that pop up. They show me the person I used to be, how cute my kids used to be playing in the mud, and how good my hubby looks when he is building or creating something new. They also show people who used to be in our lives, and the events and jobs we used to have. If someone were to see my page 10 years ago they would see that I was a runner. I was a momma and I was in the vet field.

A lot has changed, but has also stayed the same. I am still a momma but now I have more grey hair, my kids talk to be about everything from gun laws to anime. I am still in the vet field but with a different vet hospital, different role but with a lot of the same people from 10 years ago. I would love to say I run as much as I did back then but honestly I took time off from running, and am just getting back into it but more for enjoyment than races. I am in much better health now than I was then, and I have a healthier mindset.

On the way home from a trip yesterday I was talking to my hubby about the near future change that will happen. Our oldest will graduate (in two years) and that will forever change the dynamics of our home. I was telling him how much I enjoy when the three kids are in the living room with us just being silly. When they are wrestling, or playing, or even talking with each other I have such joy in that. The typical response for us as parents is to “hush” them because they are getting too loud, or “calm them down” so they don’t take things too far like we did when they are younger. I am realizing that it is more important that they are out with us. They are allowing us a parents into their world. Heck I am even happy when they offer to help with the projects we start on the house.

One day the house will be a lot quieter. One day I will look at Facebook at the memories that have been made in the last few years and I will hopefully smile at them and love the amount of time spent with the family. Work will change too, we might have new people in the pictures, my hubby will have new projects, the kids will have new adventures.

Change is a constant, it’s not easy. There are days when the joy of change cannot be contained while other days there is more crying than laughter. Today I will go to work as my hubby works on the bathroom. My son already called to say good morning while I know that his sisters and grandparents are probably still sleeping. Charlie dog has already been outside 5 times because of the cat she saw out the front window, while Jorj faithfully sits by his master’s side hoping for a piece of sausage.

I am not one to say I like change. There is a part of me that would like to keep things the same. The other part of me though, I cherish the change. I love that new experiences have happened and new people have formed from the “little monsters” that ran around the house. I love where I am now vs. where I was as a new vet nurse. I love the progression of my marriage. Change takes a newborn baby and makes her a creative, loving young lady. Change takes a “know it all” newly wed couple and makes them a wiser, more mature couple. Change is in the seasons, it’s in the moments, it’s life. Embracing it, and finding the joy because there is the constant of faith and love makes the harder times bearable, and the exciting times more exciting. Choose joy in the change. Until next time:

Saw this the other day and thought how accurate it is:

Accidentally stepped on my husband’s foot:

“Sorry”

Accidentally stepped on my dog’s paw:

“Oh my goodness, I am so sorry! Are you ok buddy? I am so, so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I love you. You want a treat? You’re the best boy, yes you are!”

To be Needed

There was an emergency in the hospital that I work at. The dog was in need of supportive care and would have to be hospitalized. When I first started out in the vet tech field this was what I did a lot of, I would be on a rotation with other nurses for the weekend shift. If there was a patient that was admitted for hospitalization on the weekend that was assigned to me, I was the one that would go in and take care of the nursing needs of that patient. I learned a lot over the years doing that, and though I didn’t always want to go in on a weekend I knew that I was doing good work helping the patient and the family that he/she belonged to. It would feel good to be needed.

As I worked and moved up the ladder to more of a head nurse, the weekend jobs would go to the assistants and those training to be a vet nurse. The doctor would check in more often or at times I would as well but I didn’t have to go in as often. In a weird way, it made me feel not as needed but then logic set in and reminded me that I am used in so many other ways within the hospital. I know I am needed still but in different capacities. The act of feeling needed puts you in a position of knowing that there is someone out there that thinks of you when they are doing something difficult and you know you can make it easier.

I tend to do this with my family as well. I know that eventually they will need me less and less especially now that I have two teens. As a momma this can be a bit harder than a job, since you spend so much of your waking hours hoping to keep these little humans alive just to have them go and do their own thing as teens. You know how difficult it is to get a teenage girl to eat food? I mean I love food, it is something that brings me joy. It feels like I am twisting an arm, leg or even a neck at times just to get my girls to eat dinner. God forbit there is chicken or pork involved! My oldest just got her permit to drive which means in the near future she can then drive her siblings around. Now I know this will make my life and my hubby’s life easier but there is still that little part of me that is mourning this step into freedom that she is taking.

The thing I can control is the fact that I can still be needed by myself. I know that I can still advocate for myself. When I feeling down and un-needed I know that I am not reading my Bible enough and relying on God as I should. When I feel like I don’t have energy or that I want to sit and eat a whole container of cookies I know that I have not been giving myself enough push to better myself. When I get done with a run or a exercise routine I feel like I can take on the world. When I decide to skip a day because I just don’t feel like doing the work, I start on a downward spiral that ends with an empty container of Oreos. To be needed all the time by others can be exhausting. To not give yourself enough time for self care can be exhausting.

I am at my strongest when I am in my element helping. There is a rush to being needed but as with everything there has to be a balance. This is where joy comes into play. I admit to worrying about the future and not being needed as much. I also know that I do this so I try daily to combat this. When you live joyfully, there is a balance. There is a time to rest and relax and there is a time to stand up and be involved. In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 it states that there is literally a time and place for everything. I can’t be needed all the time , just as I can’t be awake all the time. It is not healthy. It is also not healthy to always want to be the person people depend on. The balance has to be there too, which means taking a step back and allowing others a chance to step up into the role. It’s not easy, self-doubt and even jealousy can creep in, but if you know your worth, and your place then you can be at peace. Until next time:

People have to feel needed. Frequently we just offer a job and “perks”. We don’t always offer people a purpose. When people feel there is a purpose and that they’re needed, there’s not much else to do except let them do the work.

Maya Angelou

Joy Abounding

I know I am sleeping, only because I know I went to bed to do just that. Actually everyone in the house did. so I know I am sleeping but I keep hearing this noise. So I reluctantly release the hold I have on the peaceful slumber I was in. There is a thwap, thwap, thwap sound followed by a small scratch of medal. My alarm goes off at this moment and I realize if I don’t protect myself quickly I will soon be mauled by the very creature that is making the sounds. So I prepare myself as a white ball of energy jumps up onto the bed from the kennel she was previously enclosed in.

in this same moment I realize I am being held down by a ball that is heavy enough to keep me from moving and warm enough that I realize I don’t want to move. My dog Jorj could care less that he is inconveniencing me with the weight of his body on my legs. When we starting out going to bed he claimed his spot right away up against my legs. He has pure joy being under the comforter up against my hubby or I. He knows he is loved and has the “spot of honor” while his silly little sister has to be kenneled.

You know when you put oil and water together, it looks as if it will mix but then it doesn’t? This is how I would describe every morning since we got our dog Charlie. Joy comes in different forms, it doesn’t always show bubbly and playful, and it’s not always calm and snuggled in. But when you mix it up it doesn’t separate, it just is joy. The funniest thing to watch is when Charlie is first let out of her kennel, she grabs whatever toy is available and then tries to get up on the bed. She has the jumping ability, and does it often, but it’s the ability to get up without disturbing Jorj that she has to figure out. We have hardwood floors with a rug at the foot of the bed, this is where the traction is to jump up. The foot of the bed is where Jorj loves to lie which prevents Charlie’s attempt at jumping. Most days she doesn’t care, she just jumps, he growls and she proceeds to mom and dad where she knows she will be received at least with pets. Other times she waits for dear old dad to lift her up on his side of the bed so that she can prance around like she did it herself, in the process thwacking whoever is in her path with the deadly tail. Joy Abounding

I want joy abounding, but it is not as easy as it looks. If I were a year old “puppy” without a care in the world it would be so much easier. I am not though, I am a momma, wife, friend, and work which means I have co-workers. I have what most people have, and I am thankful for it. There are so many variables that contend for my attention in the different aspects of my life, and I would love to say I maintain a certain amount of bubbly joy in each of those but that would be exhausting. Even my Charlie dog quiets down and even goes back to sleep after being let out. This is why I love that joy comes in different levels and flavors. Abounding joy is deep down. It may not always be felt, but that’s ok, it’s not an emotion but rather a way of life. Pure joy comes from above, from Christ. It’s like a spring that never goes dry. We have to remember to drink from it though.

Life isn’t easy, and we were never told it would be. My Charlie dog doesn’t exactly like that every night she is put in her kennel while our Jorj dog gets to be on the bed, but she does it anyways. She is “stuck” until morning, but man when morning comes she is so excited. My Jorj dog doesn’t necessarily like that we added our Charlie dog to the family, but when they start playing together he loves having another dog to play with. Our family doesn’t always get along, it’s not easy with dad jokes, two teen girls, a son who thinks he really did get raised in a barn and of course me who feels the need to clean all the time. We love each other though, we are learning and growing. We tolerate and move forward. We don’t always have the enthusiastic joy of Charlie dog and her toy, but there is a deep down joy. There are days that I am like Charlie dog, the joy just bounces around and it can be felt by everyone around me. Then there are days that I rely solely on that joy (Christ) to get me through the day. It’s on those days I am so thankful that I don’t have to do it on my own. Until next time:

When God wanted to create fish, He spoke to the sea. When God wanted to create trees, He spoke to the earth. But when God wanted to create man, He turned to Himself.

Then God said: “Let us make man in our image and in our likeness”.

Note:

If you take a fish out of the water it will die; and when you remove a tree from soil, it will also die.

Likewise, when man is disconnected from God, he dies.

God is our natural environment. We were created to live in His presence. We have to be connected to Him because it is only in Him that life exists.

Water without fish is still water, but fish without water is nothing.

Unknown

Being Patient Joyfully

I have been working with the goal of having more patience. A devotion I read the other day was about the fact that patience comes from above, a vertical plane, we need to use this plane of patience so that we can horizontally give it to people we interact with daily. This is extremely hard when the people we have in our lives don’t make it easy to be around them much less have patience with them. I am not saying I don’t like who I am around but I will admit that there are days in which patience is not what I want to give them. It’s on these days that I wonder how God gives me patience.

Lately my oldest daughter and my hubby have been butting heads. In one corner is my teenage daughter who has to be in control of the the things and outcomes around her. She will come home from school and want to talk to an adult about her day (we are so very thankful and know we are blessed that she does this). She tends to choose the wrong times to do this. My hubby (in the other corner) usually gets home before I do and will get started on dinner (in which I am so very thankful). He loves to turn on the Ipad start the movie he is currently watching and get the meal cooking. He gets into this zone. The zone is somewhat of a barrier that is put up unintendedly by him. Most nights my daughter smacks right into this barrier when she starts telling him about her day. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that he doesn’t want to listen, it’s more that he can only handle so much himself. Being a guy, he is wired to fix things. When my daughter starts talking he starts hearing the things that he feels needs to be fixed. This doesn’t mix well with remembering ingredients and the fight scene that started in the movie. So the patience factor is not there.

I am working on a different type of situation in which I am trying to balance the act of being a full time veterinary nurse, a mom and wife. I want to be everywhere at once and I have this desire to have some control in the different aspects of my life. I run into the problem that the people around me don’t see my vision, and why would they? They are in their own circle of balancing acts in their own lives. I get hurt when my kids do something out of the normal (what I consider normal), but they are just trying to figure out who they are. I get irritated when the people I am to count on at work don’t always hold up their end of the bargain. I take it personally when my hubby is hangry and doesn’t realize he is taking it out on those around him. I want to be on the horizontal plane of patience but I haven’t asked the one on the vertical plane for help. God says love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, the verse goes on to say that love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Imagine if love was a person. That is a lot to live up to, luckily Love is God, and we don’t have to try and be love, we just have to learn from the One that is love so that we can give it to others.

Add joy to the mix of patience as well as turning the thought process around to giving vs. receiving. In the earlier years of marriage there was a lot I expected from my hubby. When he didn’t live up to my expectations I would get frustrated. A wise friend asked me one day if I was praying about my frustrations? She asked me if I was praying to change my hubby or if I was praying about how I could change my thoughts about him. It’s so much easier to beg God to change the people, change the circumstances, change the outcomes. What if instead we prayed about the areas in ourselves that need to be changed, cleaned out, redone. My daughter wants to talk with an adult when she gets home, but hits the barrier. Instead of getting frustrated about it, she could ask her dad after he was done if they could talk about her frustrations. She and my hubby would find more joy and patience in this act than just doing the same old routine.

When I see what I perceive as a fault in someone else, I need to first check myself and have a good heart to heart with God before bringing it up. Joy comes in love, love is patient and kind, and it always perseveres. I can complain until I am blue in the face or I can pray about the problem/situation/person and then go forth in love and patience. Being patient is not easy, being joyfully patient is not easy. Life was not meant to be easy, it was meant to teach, grow, and test us. When we use what is given to us by the One that is Love (which includes patience and joy) we will find that we can give the control of our life to Him. Until next time:

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

Looking Forward

The stage is set, the flowers and the bridesmaids are beautiful. The groom is anxiously awaiting his bride as she walks down the aisle. We are all staring at her as she passes, willing our love for her to be shown through our eyes so that she can feel it at she passes. The couple has been planning and praying over this event for months now, and the day has finally arrived where the pastor will say “I do” and they will be man and wife. As the ceremony proceeds, and stories and words are shared the future is thought about but in a way that is overshadowed by the moment of love. The couple is in the moment in which they don’t care about what will happen an hour from now much less a year.

As a young couple long ago, my hubby and I were just trying to figure out what it was like to live together, spend together, and plan together. We didn’t get a lot of things right, because we were flying by the seat of our pants. We both came into our marriage with financial debt, but we also both had our own expectations of what marriage would really be like. At times we would get through life day by day, trying to just make it without stressing each other out. For the most part though, we leaned on each other, we had trial an errors in which we grew stronger together, and we made time to plan. We would be grounded in the day but we would let our minds go for what the future held.

We now have kids that are at the stage of planning their futures. It’s amazing to think that the dreams you dreamt about years ago are in your present and you are living them out. Planning now looks so different than planning then. There are just as many prayers about what the future holds while being present now, but the dialog has changed. Joy comes from deep down, it comes from knowing that even if life is hard and the laughter isn’t always there, you belong and are loved. Joy comes from knowing Christ loves you the way you were years ago and how you are now. My hubby and I are more secure in who we are as individuals but also as a couple. Our kids are learning the ways of the world and where they fit into it. They struggle so much with what the world tells them they should be doing, how they should act, what they should see as important. They are trying to figure in where their faith fits into the whole of who they are. They are planning (at least my girls are) for what they will do in the near future. They are looking forward and dreaming. We as their parents are looking forward and dreaming as well, but also looking to see where we can teach them life skills that will keep them on the right path.

It’s a funny thing to plan, and dream and hope. It takes the mundane and makes it bearable. It makes the every day a bit brighter. It’s exciting to see with your mind’s eye what dreams fulfilled could look like. Dreaming and planning is work, but worth it. When my kids were little, planning looked like the amount of time I had to myself while they napped. Now it’s the amount of time I have with them in general. The focus has changed. My hubby and I are no longer trying to figure life out day by day, we have a routine now, we have little nuances about each other than speak louder than words will. We now plan the future out in trips and collage funds vs. diapers and making ends meet.

There is an energy to life when you take the time to look up from the grind. When you take the time to look at what is around you. The grind will be there, it’s what pays the bills and keep life going. I love the new year, it’s like starting over. I love it because I know there are adventures coming in the new year. A new school year happens, new trips, new financial goals, new jobs, new dreams, new outlooks on current dreams and plans. These help when there are bumps in the road. Praying over your dreams and plans will bring blessings along the way. Looking forward is not a new concept, wanted something better than what we have is not bad, unless we are doing it for the wrong reasons. Praying and seeking God’s guidance should be the first step in any planning, He wants you to have a future and hope after all. What do you dream about? What are you planning for? Look forward to what lies ahead but stay grounded in Christ while doing it. The road won’t always be easy, but it is worth it. Until next time: I love this quote from Mother Theresa:

You will teach them to fly, but they will not fly your flight. You will teach them to dream, but they will not dream your dream. You will teach them to live, but they will not live your life. Nevertheless, in every flight, in every life, in every dream, the print of the way you taught them will remain

Mother Theresa

Sprinkle in a little Sunshine too

It was such a good day! My sweet hubby got it into his brain that we needed to actually plan in advance family days. Don’t tell him I said this but he is a genius. Our family is the typical busy family, my hubby and I both work and the kids are in school so nights and weekends are when we can do things as a family. There are times when we do things on a whim and they work out pretty well, if we don’t have other things that have to be done on that same day. So that is where the planning comes into play. We looked at our calendar chose days that we wanted to do something and then we book it. Doesn’t sound too difficult huh? In theory it isn’t, when actually putting it into practice it isn’t as bad a pulling teeth but it is as hard as slowing down, sitting down and taking the time to plan.

So we went snow tubing. We reserved our times (thank you covid) and this past weekend was our time on the mountain. We made lunches the night before and made hot cocoa to bring so we had something hot to drink while there. We packed up the car with the kids and food and headed out. Two hours later we pulled into the snow park and proceeded to have 3 hours of sliding down the hill. Last year when we did this we knew there was a possibility of someone going over the berm into someone else’s lane (they have 5 lanes set up for a fast ride down). This year was no different other than the addition of some hay about 3/4 of the way down (I think they finally figured out they need to slow the tubes down somehow). First go we all realized that we would be taking some of that hay home with us due to the fact that as you go over the mixture of snow/hay some of the hay flies up into your hair, face, jacket basically anything exposed. It did do it’s job though, we slowed for a split second and then sped right back up once the tube hit the slick snow on the other side.

One of my kids tubing

The people that thought this tubing hill up were quite smart, they set up lanes (great for racing each other), they have a escalator type ride that carries you and your tube up to the top of the hill (so no one gets tired climbing), and they have the tubes. You literally just show up! My son wanted so bad for one of his family members to hold onto his tube and go down with him at the same time. We tried to tell him that it would mean he would go faster and that there was a chance that he could be launched into the other lane because of how light he is but he insisted. So he and his sister did lane number 1 (historically the fastest lane out of the five). I was at the top of the hill waiting to go down my slower lane, lane 5 when I saw my son and his tube jump the berm and he rolled in the hay literally. We watched waited and then saw him get himself up, get his tube and walk the rest of the way down the lane. I knew at that moment we had to get him back up the hill for him to tube down again so that he wouldn’t be afraid to do it more. I am happy to report he went down the hill numerous times after that and stayed in his tube each time.

More people tubing

My middle daughter and hubby were not so lucky, both got flung out of their tubes a couple of times while my oldest and I were able to stay upright and in our tube the whole morning. By the time we were done, the hill was slick from the sun, the hay was spread thin and we all had smiles on our faces. Our family has fun together when we get to be together. We are an active family, and do most of our stuff outdoors. There is a saying that goes something like this: If you have to find time to do something with loved ones it’s a chore, but when you make time to do something with your loved ones it’s a joy. We get so busy, focusing so much on what is in front of us that we simply forget to have fun. There will always be chores to do, bills to pay and work to be done. My kids are growing up so fast (yes, I was warned this would happen) and so spending time with them is one of my highest priorities. I want them to look back on their childhood and know that they were loved for one, but remember all the fun times we had together.

I received a group text from one of my aunts who lives south of me. She was inviting her sisters over to sit outside to visit while she weeded her garden. She said there would be food, sunshine and of course a blanket to sit on, and there was no obligation at all for anyone to help with the weeding. This was purely a way for her to have her sisters near. As I read through this short text my immediate response was that I wanted to come over too! My sister (great minds think alike) said the same thing (I might have copied her, but don’t tell her that). In my mind it seemed like such a fun afternoon event. Low key but full of love and food, some of my favorite things. This text also reminded me of the many times when I was younger that we did the same thing that my mom and aunts were doing. Such good memories! I hope that I will be in a similar text in the future but instead of my aunts it’s my girls inviting each other over to do the same thing, hopefully they will invite me too. Until next time:

If you want to have Joy, you have to have Joy on purpose. When you wake up in the morning, you can’t just wait to see what kid of day you’ll have. You have to decide what kind of day you’ll have. Joy helps you see the day clearer and with more sparkle.

You are What you Wear?

Driving to an appointment today I saw a bright pink object on the side of the road. As I drove closer I realized that it wasn’t an object but rather a person who was walking wearing the brightest pinkest suit you could think of. His hair was also a less bright shade of pink. My first thought was dang, that’s bright, but right after that thought was “you go boy!” wear that suit proudly, which he was doing. I am not a stranger to bright, weird or colorful outfits. My hubby loves to think outside the box when it comes to his shirts and shoes in particular. He has been known to wear a skirt to get into the spirit of a holiday or work function too. If you were to meet him for the first time though he can be a little intimidating (picture a tall guy with a bald head and goatee).

Going a step further I know some people that won’t go to the gym because they don’t look as good as others that go to the gym already. The tighter workout clothes that are the style can push people away from doing something good for themselves. It makes sense, if you already don’t feel comfortable with your body, it can be hard to be around others who have gotten fit and show it off. With that being said, those who want to go to the gym should and not worry about what others look like. I wear the workout gear because it is comfortable to work out in. It doesn’t change who I am as a person.

The kind of clothes we where can give clues to the type of people we are. It doesn’t set it in stone. I wear scrubs all day long, five days a week, but I am a momma, a wife, a friend, I love to workout. The scrubs I wear would not tell you that. One a higher note what do we put on before we leave the house? Do we wear our pride like a badge? Do we clothe ourselves in humbleness? What do we put on our feet to protect us from the harshness we walk through? Kindness should be like our favorite sneakers that we wear whenever we can because they are so comfortable. Love should be worn like your favorite earrings, something that is beautiful maybe even a little bit of sparkle added? Patience is the hoodie that is worn out but you never want to get rid. When it’s cold outside and all seems so bleak that’s when the overcoat of forgiveness is worn.

We put so much thought into our outfits, I wonder if we put that amount of thought into how we act and how we treat others what that would be like. It would be such an eye opener if for just a day we had special vision that allowed us to see what emotions people wore, what attitudes and personalities that carry around. The ability to see these things would show us more about who a person is, as well as who we are. Of course this is how Christ sees us. He is not concern so much about the outer appearance but more what is in the heart. What a scary and exhilarating thought. I literally cannot hide the thoughts I have, every word under my breath, every judgement I place, every praise I don’t say out loud to someone, He knows and hears them all. It can be overwhelming, but I also know I don’t have to hide anything when it comes to Christ because I can’t. That is comforting.

My clothes don’t make me the person I am. I will be that person wearing scrubs or wearing sweats. I am who I am. There is joy in that too. What kind of person are you under the clothes you wear? What attributes do you put on like clothing before you head out the door? Until next time:

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering, bearing with one another, and forgiving one another...but above all these things put on love.
Colossians 3:12-14

Little bits of Joy

About 3 weeks ago I was talking with my sister in which she brought up that she is starting to have weekly visits with our younger brother. I thought this was such and cool thing and expressed that I wish I could hold a conversation with brother without it falling into the awkward stage of nothing more to talk about. I have a very hard time with small talk, and though I know that I have things in common with my brother, he lives so far away and we see each other every other year generally. So that means his life and my life don’t tend to come together very often. As my sister and I were talking about this she came up with the brilliant plan to have me join in on the zoom meeting she our brother have on Saturdays. Let me tell you it was such a good idea. It worked out so well because my sister is amazing at keeping conversations going without the other people knowing that she is doing it. We were able to all “get together” for a visit and it made for a great rest of the day. The meeting that I thought would only be about an hour could have easily gone past the hour and half that it was.

We talked about our kids, we talked about growing up and memories. We talked about upcoming trips that we need to plan. It was so good to see my niece and it was fun to have my son talk with his aunt and uncle. We made fun of each other and talked about how the parents are doing. I learned that my brother didn’t actually hold all the mean things I did to him against me, and that there was actually some nice things I did for him. When we had to get off the meeting to go back to our normal every day lives I felt lighter. It was such a joy and a refreshing hour and a half of just visiting. I get into ruts where everything seems to be mundane and the same. So when there was this change, and it was a good change the rest of the day was a bit more bright. The great thing is they invited me back to their meetings whenever I wanted. That is love, and that is pure joy for me.

My daughter and I had to teach this week at church. When I say “had” though I mean we got to. We love our little class of 5 and 6 year olds. We are doing our best to remember the names of of the kids since we only do twice a month. It is such a joy waiting for the kids to show up, remembering their names and then smiling and welcoming them in with a hug. When their faces light up, it is so worth it. This Sunday my daughter and I decided for the craft we would take pictures of the kids that made it look like they were holding a big group of balloons. We printed them on sitcky back paper and then let the kids draw and color the balloons. Some of the kids didn’t want to take the picture but majority of them did. We had so much fun doing this craft for Valentines Day next week. We learned about the last supper in Matthew 26 and taught the kids that it was a way to remember that Jesus loves us. I know at that age big messages like this are hard for kids to grasp. What they do understand is that there are two adults that are happy to see them (other than their parents). So it’s not just talking about how much Jesus loves them but we show it to them as well.

As I said earlier I tend to get into ruts where it feels like my everyday life can be mundane. I tend to go through the motions sometimes. I love when these little Joy breaks happen. A fun meeting with the siblings, a smiling face from a little girl in my class. Even the other night, my husband let our “puppy” Charlie out to go to the bathroom one last time before we all went to sleep. It usually takes a little time for her and Jorj to “finish their business” so when it took a little longer than normal we started to whistle for them to come in. In true Charlie form she is the first in line. She also had found a toy that I had missed, this toy must have been buried because the full top of her head was covered in dirt. Try as he may my hubby was not quick enough to get her back outside (though he was quick enough to take pictures of her…) and so she decided she needed to get the dirt off herself. All over my floor and rug. Now granted I could have been upset, but let me tell you, it’s hard to be upset when the “puppy” in her looks at you so proudly. Like “look mom, I cleaned myself!” I chose to make that a joy moment, mainly because I was tired and she was too cute to get mad at. Joy breaks are everywhere. They help get you through the times in life that are not so joyous. Life is tough as it is. Why make it harder by not looking around and seeing the joy that is present. Until next time:

You wouldn’t plant a seed and then dig it up every few minutes to see if it has grown. So why do you keep questioning yourself, your hard work and your decisions? Have patience, stop overthinking and keep watering your seeds.

Steven Bartlet

How Available Are You?

A few weeks ago a friend of mine texted me about having lunch. We had worked with each other for over a year and even went to a conference together. We almost share birthdays and tend to think and act almost the same. We have the same careers even. I was determined when I left the job we both worked at that I would keep in touch, and for a little bit we did. We would text mostly, and there were a couple of times we met with another friend to help her with schoolwork. Then life just started to happen. My new job started to get really busy, and his job was already busy, so it came down to texting every once in while, until one day we decided we just needed to have lunch to catch up. When went through our schedules and picked a day and time that worked well. I was excited, I don’t get to sit down with very often with friends to just visit. A few days before we were going to meet up though he had to call it off because of something with his schedule.

I have another good friend who between the two of us we have decided that we need to be spontaneous with our “dates”. She is a busy gal with a young family, and I can’t seem to settle down and just relax. So one of us will call the other and set the date, usually for the next night. This is a new phenomenon that we tried once and succeeded. The second time we wanted to get together we tried this maneuver again and it would have worked a second time, but covid happened and she had to travel. When the positive test result came back, we said we would reschedule.

Being available is a choice. When I get home from work, I don’t tend to answer texts or phone calls from people at work. I had to make the conscious choice to turn that part of my brain off. This goes for the weekend too, which I talked about in previous posts. I have to be available for my self and my family. I have to pick and chose what I want to be available for. If it’s important to me I will make time, but in reality it isn’t always that simple is it. Reading my Bible and doing devotions is important for my wellbeing but there are times that I just can’t get to my favorite chair to read. Setting down my book or phone to listen and be present with my kids and my hubby is so very important to me, but there are nights when I get home and all I can think to do is go “brain dead” on my phone. My sister and I make it a point weekly to meet up in the morning. It is such an important time for us, but there are times when I can’t make it or she is traveling and we have to reschedule.

My well being is important to me, so I show up 2 to 3 times weekly to workout, this means doing some sets that are not comfortable and cause me to sweat just a little bit more than I am used to but I do it, so that I can be healthy and more stable. My job is important to me but the extent of my availability stretches me to grow in my confidence in the job I do. If I didn’t find these things important I wouldn’t make the effort to show up. When I have excuses for not showing up, or I find ways to be busy I don’t want to be available. Throughout history there are stories upon stories of people that decided to be available, and because of that choice history was made. When it is important do you show up or find ways to not be present? Do people count on you? Are you present or do you find ways to “lay low”? How available are you? Until next time:

Think like Tarzan: When he was swinging from vine to vine, he didn’t look to the vines behind him, he focused on the vine he had to grab next so he wouldn’t fall.

To Be Found

When I was younger I would loose things a lot. I would set something down and completely forget where I put it when I needed the object later on. It wasn’t always my things either. I can’t remember exactly what it was that I had lost except for the fact that it was something my dad needed when he got home from work. I remember my momma had me look all over for it and when I couldn’t find it she stood me in the corner and said I had to stay there until I remembered where I put it. Of course I never really stayed in the corner long since mom would go into hyper-drive search mode and find the object way faster that what my memory could come up with.

On the flip side it is so awesome to reach into a pocket at find money there by surprise (though in reality, it was probably put there and then whoever put it there just forgot about it). In my mind that is a great forget, something that just makes you smile and go on the search for more. My mom is once again great at this. Over the many years of being away from home, each time I would go to visit, or she would come visit my family we learned that she likes to hide little treasures throughout the house that we find days to sometimes weeks later. She doesn’t always do it and it is something that is not expected but she must know that when the treasure is found it puts a smile on the recipients face.

I got to have that wonderful feeling over the holidays that I actually got the presents that my family actually wanted. It seemed that every holiday before there would be shopping and guessing and never really getting it right. This year it happened though, all the special items were found, got delivered on time, and the reactions of the people were caught on camera. Finding that special gift just adds a little more magic to the season.

The other night I went to a sweet family’s home to help them say goodbye to their dear cat. The cat was 22 years old which is very old indeed. The daughter at just three years old found the cat as a kitten under their front porch and somehow convinced her parents to let her keep it. Over the years the cat had many adventures outdoors as an great hunter, chaser of deer and was even smart enough to look both directions before crossing the street. As I sat with the family and listened to them tell story after story I knew that it was such a good thing that this cat was “found”. The now young lady said over and over again how her cat was her best friend. There are times when a family pet is found but usually they chose their people.

Finding your sanity in a time that usually strips our sanity from us is a wonderful thing. Over this last week we have had to deal with more people being sick. This can drive anyone to their breaking point. What it meant for the clinic that I work for was a lot of phone calls. There was a lot of rearranging of the schedules so that people would not get exposed to any illness. I forget how much I hate talking on the phone until I have to talk on the phone for a whole day. People are nice and pleasant for the most part, but it’s just draining to repeat over and over the script and then finding a different time slot to reschedule them too. The joy comes in knowing this was done for a reason. We were making sure to keep people safe to the best of our ability by not showing up on their doorstep sick.

Finding surprises like money in a pocket or a kitten under the house brings joy. Standing in a corner with your mind still drawing a blank on where something was put is not as enjoyable. To find something or even having the ability to forget something can be a blessing. To find your joy in all circumstances is where peace will be found. Joy doesn’t come from being happy all the time. Find joy comes from being content, and knowing you are loved and are important to God. Finding your joy and helping people because of the joy you have is amazing. What needs to be found in your life? Is it something that has just been lost in your house, or something bigger that will give you peace of mind? Whatever it is, I hope you don’t need to go stand in a corner until you remember but rather you find it by opening your eyes to the world around you. Until next time:

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.

Dumbledore

What Is Home?

A house is where people live, but what is home? I had a chance to think about this more lately. Home can mean so many things. Every morning my family and I wake up, do our morning routines and then we either head to work, school or off to run the many different errands we have. We get to come home from where we have gone and that means home to me. Home is when I step through the door knowing my dogs will bark at me, my kids will either be doing something together or off doing things in their own rooms. Home is knowing that my sweet hubby is cooking dinner and will commence in telling me about his day while I tell him about mine. Home is comfort and love.

Home was a weird thing today. My coworkers and I had a chance to walk through a building which was the place in which our careers started. We walked through each room remanincing about old times. We remembered the good times over some of the bad times and we dreamed about the possiblities of the future of being back in the building doing what we did when we started out. Home was in the moment of dreaming again with the people you have worked with and grew with over the last eighteen years. Home is knowing that the ragtag bunch of people are family.

Home is feeling comfortable at a church. One at which you are welcomed no matter what your background. I don’t know everyone and that’s ok. I just know that I am not judged because of what I do for a living. I am not judged nor is my family because of the lifestyle choices my kids make. My daughter and I work in the children’s ministry and we get to love on the kids. My son goes to Wednesday night youth group and the leader loves him and smiles so big when she sees him. The kids in my class come in and give hugs. There are family nights and monthly meals that the church shares together. This is Home.

Home is a dinner/lunch date with a friend. They are few and far between, but when they happen the go on for a couple of hours or more. There is food, drinks and laughter. I feel fulfilled afterwards. My heart spills over. I have one of these dates coming up here shortly. My friend is close to my age but has a young son, where I have older kids. We talk family, work, and animals. We get silly, we involve the waitress and we enjoy our time together. This is home.

Talking to my sister weekly is home. She is a voice of reason, and I love to get her worked up, but not always. If something happens within the extended family she’ll be the one to tell me about it. This has been like this for years and it works. I love hearing from my parents, aunts and uncles, but I know that when something significant happens my sister will call and tell me. My kids love her and my sister knows all about their quirks. There is no judgement just love. This is home.

Home is a good book. I love picking up a good book, a soft blanket and a snack. I love re-reading a good book. It’s like an old friend. I can look any way I want, eat what I want, sit where I want when I get into my book. There is comfort in that.

Home is where the love and comfort is. Home is who you share it with. Home is no judgement, just acceptance. Home has to be found but once it is, it remains. Where is home for you? Until next time:

Negativity is contagious

Unhappiness is contagious. Fear is contagious. But so is happiness. so is optimism. So is love. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. And strive to be a reflection of what you want to receive.

Michell C. Clark

Finding the Joy Breaks

There are weeks when even in the first hour of work on Monday it feels like I should be the last hour on Friday. The Monday already feels long and the weekend looks like it will never come. This past week felt like this for both my hubby and I. Work just kept going and obstacles kept coming our way. When my hubby went into work Monday the whole crew was there, by the time Friday came he was the only one left in his department which meant he was the only one in the building. Everyone else either was sick or had someone in the family sick. It came to a point in which he placed a sign on the door saying the building would be closed and that people would need to call in to take care of their billing questions. True to his nature he found the “Joy Breaks” in the situation. First thing he made a sign saying “The building is closed due to us being short staffed, the meanies but the calculators on the top shelf”. He took everything in stride. He had time to get his job done, and help those who called in, all while listening to his favorite rock bands.

My week was almost a blur of constantly going. That is the nature of the beast when working the field I work. The start of my week was supporting a sweet couple through the difficult time of saying goodbye. In even this the joy that came from hearing their story made the task smoother. They had their beloved pet since puppy and he had reached the ripe old age of 16 years without many medical problems. Their pet had been there through college and beyond, even to the point of the couple starting their own family. It was a sweet time of memories as they said goodbye.

The rest of the week was spent helping other pets in need with the joy of driving through beautiful country sides to get to a clients homes, chatting with friends that I don’t get to see normally due to life happening, and getting home to my family each night. One night I had gotten home after a long day thinking I would sit and veg until bedtime. My plan failed and I am happy for it since my son came out from his room, grabbed a card game and ask “mom you wanna play?” Let me tell you I haven’t laughed that hard in a while. The game requires saying five certain words in an exact order while placing cards down with different pictures on them. If the word and the picture match the person who slaps the deck first wins the round and other person takes the pile of cared. Lets just say I really get into the game. My son tried to slap my hand whenever the game called for it but usually ended up with his hand getting slapped. The faces he made and the redness of his hand had me giggling. By the time we were done with the round I was crying because of laughing so hard (before you think of me as being mean, my hand was just as red and he was laughing too).

My week ended with another sweet family having to say goodbye to a beloved pet. After a long day at the clinic I needed to reset my brain to be there for them. When I left the weight of the day was heavy. I got home and my sweet family let me zone out, let me just be and unwind. It was what was needed and when I woke up the next morning I was ready to take on the world. I had a hard time finding the “Joy Break” until it was handed to me by my family when they allowed me to not be in the moment.

Joy breaks can be recognizing when a break is needed. Joy is found when your family is getting along. It can be found when a child asks you to play a game. It can be found in a good book. Joy is found when you realize your kids can do things on their own. My middle child announced yesterday that she would be trying a recipe out that would be making cookies like the “Lighthouse cookies” you find at the store. You know those cookies that are like sugar cookies with the frosting that are light and fluffy? I am so excited to try those out. Joy comes in having your youngest feeling better after a day of running a fever. Joy comes from your oldest getting over her fear and learning to drive. Joy comes from my sweet hubby taking pride in a project he just finished. We now have cupboards in our hallway that used to have a brick chimney behind the wall. Joy comes in laughing so hard tears come. Joy comes from helping make cookies know that you get to sample them afterwards.

When life tells you you need to be busy to feel accomplished that is when you answer back with “Joy Breaks”. That is when you need to step back and realize there is more to life than being busy. Not many people will look back on their lives and think “Wow! look at how good I was at being busy!” I for one know I will look back and remember the joy moments. Yes I will have a rewarding career because I have it now, but that won’t be where the joy comes from, it will be when I took time to be with the Lord, be with my family and friends and took time to be right with myself. How about you? What do you want to see? What “Joy Breaks have you found? Until next time:

The secret of The Muppets is they’re not very good at what they do.

Kermit is not a great host, Fozzie is not a good comedian, Miss Piggy is not a great singer…Like, none of them are actually good at it, but they love it.

And they’re like a family, and they like putting on the show. And they have joy.

And because of the joy, it doesn’t matter that they’re not good at it.

And that is like what we should all be. Muppets

Brett Goldstein

Is It So Important?

Do you ever just think about something so long you start to actually think you need it? Instagram and other social medias seem to count on people do this. Most people use one if not more of the many social media outlets and when we get onto these outlets there are ads and reels/tweets (whatever they may be called) for different things you may have clicked on at one point. So for me I tend to navigate towards animal related topics. So though I will never have a farm, own a cow, chicken or horse I watch others that do own these animals and what they do with them. From those I have at some point clicked on a post for a veterinary topic in which now I follow certain people who of course have products they sell. I have seen numerous items that flow across my screen enough to now own certain items sold purely because I saw them enough times I was able to convince myself I really needed them.

My kids do this based on what they see going across their screens. I have seen them want things ranging from Fortnite, to Dragons to Anime. Recently due to new movies coming out, there have been reels and tweets and such about the movies. Cue thinking you want something just because you have seen it so many times. The latest fascination is the Spiderman movie. Due to the amount of times we have seen the actors doing their things they do and the promotion of the movie, one of my daughters is now interested in seeing latest movie as well as the ones previous to it. She has started looking into prices on renting the movies, she has watched the reels and tweets. She has gone and talked to her friend who is a Marvel fan to see what his thoughts are. I can say this, she is thorough.

We try to teach our kids the value of research and to be sure of their choices. It doesn’t always work and there are times in which us as parents don’t set great examples. My son at the moment is sure in his choice to not do the dishes that were left from last night. He has this thing about leaving chores undone. He gets them mostly done and then gets distracted by anything else that isn’t a chore. Last night dishes were left on the counter that were both clean and dirty. So we put them all in the sink and let him know he had to clean them all by hand and put them away. He is sure that my hubby and I are not fair. He even went as far as getting the Uno deck out to find the reverse card to give to one of us so that we would have to do the dishes for him. Cute but not effective. He was so sure of his ability to not have to clean the dishes by hand he made a price list of what it would cost us to have him do the dishes by hand and put them away. Once again cute but not effective. I will give it to him, he is creative in his ways of trying to get out of the problem. We will always encourage creativity, we will also enforce responsibility for your actions.

The ability to shut off the “obsessing” over different thoughts, actions, items is important. Most people in my life know that on Sundays I usually don’t answer my phone. I don’t even have it close by. I have chosen to take a day away so that I can focus on family life. Sometimes though I catch a text that upsets the quiet flow of the day. It’s of no fault of the person who sent it, since I chose to read it. Most of the times it is things that I can take care of on Monday but that doesn’t mean scenarios don’t go through my brain of what could happen if I don’t take care of it when I see it. It’s almost like waking up in the middle of the night knowing you should use the restroom but then decide you can ignore it only to not fall back asleep until you take care of the need. Taking time for yourself and family needs to be a first. If you can’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others. This is the point of my Sunday routine. The rest of the week I respond quickly and try to help people and pets as much as I can, Sunday is the day I don’t.

In whatever way you see what it is that causes you to want something, it is up to you if you want to obsess over it. Is the movie or item so important that you think about it so much you buy it or see the movies as well as the previous movies? Is a routine so important to you that you do whatever it takes to preserve the routine? I wish I could say that I don’t think on things so much that it ruins my peace. When I look back on the times I did this, I can say it really wasn’t worth it. There are items of clothing I bought thinking I just had to have it that I no longer have. My kids no longer have the toys or clothing or pictures that they just had to have, but later decided they were no longer important. This is one reason why experiences have become more important than items. Days off are sacred. Family time is of priority. The things of importance have changed. Until next time:

Be strong enough to let go and patient enough to wait for what you deserve

They are Comfortable with you

I have been taking my daughter to the doctor over the last few months to make sure her medication is doing what it should be doing. Normally this means that there are questions that need to be answered. The problem is, my daughter clams up and responds in slight nods and quiet ”I don’t knows”. The nurse and doctor then looks at me for more clarification, in which I elaborated on the nods and quiet answers. I learned after the first couple of doctor appointments that if I talk with her while on the way to the appointment I can get the answers needed so the doctor can formulate a helpful plan.

It all comes down to comfort. Yes, my daughter has know this doctor literally her whole life, but it’s only been in the last few months that we have had to see her more than just once a year for the yearly check-ups. My daughter is also a teen who read the rulebook that all teens secretly have that states after the age of 13 they must start to clam up and make it impossible for anyone to know what they really want or how they feel. I feel pretty lucky though, my girls actually talk to me. They like to show me what they are interested in (for the most part) and they are still ok with hanging out with me, especially when I am helping cats.

And on the subject of cats, they must be teens too, because they act exactly like them. We have 5 cats the currently reside at the hospital I work at. Two of them are old and feel the need to boss us around while the other 3 are young and allow us into their lives purely for the fact we feed them, and occasionally sit on the floor for them to sit on us. One cat in particular is the most “teen acting”. She feels the need to boss us around, leave her toys out, and actually plops down on whatever it is that may be taking our attention away from her . She does this though because she is comfortable with us. She doesn’t do this with strangers that walk in, she waits until we are alone working on something important. As I was sitting there today I wasn’t paying attention to her in the manner she felt I should have been and so she reached up with her paws, and promptly grabbed my jacket as she burrowed herself inside. It didn’t matter that she would have fallen off the counter had I not caught her. She got my attention and made me notice her.

Teens just like cats take a lot of work and energy, especially when they are comfortable with you and feel safe in your presence. The complexity that comes from these relationships is not knowing when you will spook them. The other day I said my eldest daughter should take on a task that I thought would help her, she thought about it long enough it overwhelmed her. All I have to do with my middle daughter is completement her on something she does and all of a sudden she is hiding out in her room because too much attention was given to her. We have a cat at the clinic that runs and hides if you come in but will come play with you when you calmly sit on the floor.

I know at one point way back in the “good old days” I was a teenager. I probably acted somewhat similar as my two teens do today. There were people I trusted with every secret, while others I would look at them like they were monsters if they even looked at me. My momma was always willing to let me hang out with her when I just didn’t want to do what all the other kids were doing. Being a mom now I can understand the worries and frustrations she might have had with the things I said and did. She had a great poker face, I would have never known she had any concerns when it came to me though she probably had plenty. I think she did what I am doing now. I am there for my kids and I am talking with God about them daily.

People open up when they feel comfortable with the person they are talking to. Comfort takes a lot of work. It isn’t a simple “hey how ya doing?” It’s a timeline of getting to know someone so that when you ask them “hey how ya doing?” you know if they are telling you the whole story or not. There are days when I would love to not have to hear about the characters in the latest game being played. I would really love not having to hear about the random fact about some fish in the ocean. I would love it, but if they didn’t involve me in these conversations I would miss them terribly, because there is comfort in knowing that I get to be a part of their comfort. Until next time:

Teenager: Noun, Someone who is ready for the zombie apocalypse but not ready for the math test tomorrow

A Whole New Year

As is tradition in our home (at least in the last few years when the kids cared enough to mandate it) we stayed up until midnight on New Year’s Eve. My hubby, the dogs and I really struggled with the late night waiting of the ball to drop but we did it. We are creatures of habit for sure, so when 10pm hit both of the dogs gave me the “it’s time for bed” look and then proceeded to walk back and forth from my room to the living room to make it known they were serious. My kids on the other hand were more than happy to be up and then stay up only because that one of the silly things pre-teens/teens do. We all know they need sleep but the concept is lost to them until you try waking them in the morning for something and your head is ripped from your neck.

This past year is luckily in the past. Not that it was a bad year. It actually wasn’t half bad. I was able to leave one part time job to make the other part time job a full time one. We had college graduations, beloved pastors and family members go to be with the Lord, we had trips to other states, school go back to normal schedules, new additions to the family by way of a furry little hamster. We had lows and highs, during the year, some that rocked me to my core while others sent my heart soaring. Our lives are meant to be an adventure.

While visiting my in-laws for Christmas they had a snow storm that was not a welcomed event. The area they live in doesn’t normally get snow and when it does it is usually the heavy wet stuff that turns slippery on the roads and causes branches to break from trees. It was so beautiful though. It made trees look magically and communities look like what you would see in pictures. My son could not wait to go play in it with the cousins and the dogs. My hubby couldn’t wait to shovel it off the driveway (he wasn’t excited really, it was a way to have peace and quiet from a loud house). I am one that would rather be warm than cold so I enjoyed it from the comfort of couch under a warm blanket.

This year (only being a couple days old) is promising to fill the snow order. We need it badly so this is a very good thing. I am excited to see what this year holds. I say this at the beginning of each year and it’s true. There are so many things to look forward to. I have stopped doing new year resolutions years ago. They don’t seem to serve much of a purpose other than to make a person feel bad if they don’t accomplish it. Goals should be set at anytime of the year. Entering into the new year is exciting, don’t get me wrong. I always get the feeling it’s like a clean slate, a new notebook. The anticipation of what can happen this year puts a little skip in my step.

My goals though have stayed consistent. Be a good person, get into the Bible daily, live as much of a healthy lifestyle as I can, guide my kids and love them through their rough spots, love my husband, enjoy the ride of life, see the beauty in the world around me, don’t watch the news, read good books, find an adventure. I also have the goals to work on that are not as glamourous: stop judging myself, stop with the negative self talk, don’t expect perfection from myself and others, take time to rest, don’t automatically criticize someone’s decisions if they are different than what you would do, be more open to possibilities.

You can’t fit these into a “new year’s resolution”. These must be ongoing goals that become habits. So instead of a resolution, a Bible verse to live by, a quote to memorize, a new hobby to try. This last year did have some trying times. Times that I should have found peace with reading the Bible and praying. The problem is my faith was hit, all things that I found natural with my faith suddenly made me question parts of it, and I still struggle with this. So I “started over” with just simple devotions in the morning, and I found a ring. It’s a simple ring but it has a mustard seed integrated into it. It’s a simple reminder to me that all I need is faith as small as a mustard seed. God will take care of the rest. There are days when I felt that is all I had, and I know there will be days this year where I will feel that again. The Bible tells me though with even that amount of faith I can move mountains.

This year will hold ups and downs, goods and bads. Every year does. That is where the adventure lies. The two options you have are to embrace it or stick your head in the sand. I plan to embrace it, because that is what I am driven to do. Until next time:

...."because you have so little faith.  Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to there and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you".  (Jesus speaking to His disciples)  Matthew17: 20-21

Snow Perspective

We woke up this morning with some white stuff on the ground. Normally this is not unusual in the town we live in, but we are visiting family in a place that gets a lot of rain, not snow. It is still very beautiful, and peaceful, and serene as it falls from the heavens. It’s the perfect time to set down in front of the big picture windows and write.

As I sit here, in the other room my hubby and his dad are talking about the various passes that people have to drive over that have snow on them. My mother in law has already been in contact with the people at her church about if church will be cancelled today due to the 3-4 inches that have fallen. Security cameras have been looked at to see how bad it is coming down in our home town. The word “snow-megetton” is even being thrown around since snow hasn’t been seen at least in this town for a few years and it was such a heavy snow that tree branches fell and people had damage to their homes.

Kids got the joy of waking up this morning to a white morning. There will be a day of snow man making, snow ball throwing, and dads reminding them of how much driveway space there is for them to shovel. Snow has a special way of hyper driving the energy levels of kids and dogs alike. I don’t think I have seen my dogs zoom around as fast as they do in the snow. When the cousins come, and they will come and epic snowball war will happen.

When my hubby and I first moved to the town we live in, I hadn’t been around snow really at all. I didn’t drive well in it. I never really had to shovel it, and walking around in it was a new and dangerous experience in itself. I managed to find the joy in the unknown with experiences. Tim would have me stand under a big tree, he would kick it and all the snow from higher up would fall all around. On my way to the car one morning I learned that ice is not very forgiving. At the time we had a two wheel drive vehicle that we learned to drive in deep snow. I admit that I thought about snowlike my in-laws think about snow today. It’s pretty but lets cancel everything and stay home. I admit, as I look out the window I am thinking, thinking ”this isn’t so bad”, but I have way more experience now with snow now. My perspective has definitely changed, but with that change has also come respect for the white stuff and for the knowledge of how it can be difficult to get around for some people.

We have a beautIful winter wonderland outside. It is cold, it is wet, and it is going to be fun for the kids and the dogs. I am sure at some point when us adults stop fretting and worrying about the snow, we will see the magic of snowmen, and snowball fights and get out with the kids and play. Imagine if we played first before worried? This morning, I enjoyed before planning. I sat down with my Spark (https://referral.advocare.com/x/tE28zA) in hand and watched the snow fall. I got the dogs ready and threw them outside so that they could wrestle and zoom. The kids got their snow clothes on and ran out with them. The in-laws settled in for a quiet day at home.

I love that we each have our own experiences in life. They make us who we are. I would hope that because of the experiences we will grow and learn and not be fearful and hide. My perspective will never be the same as someone elses, but it will form me to be the person I am becoming. I hope that this Christmas season was joyful for those reading this. I am excited for the upcoming year and the adventures to be had. For the moment though, I have a snowman to build. Until next time:

When it snows, you have two choices shovel or make snow angels

Unknown

Why do I hurt?

You guys! I hurt and I mean in the I worked out too much and didn’t realize I did too much kind of way. I did my normal workout routine yesterday but had to add in a walk halfway through my day with three dogs we have at the clinic. Not really a big deal since I had my daughter there helping me but these dogs are trained sled dogs. They are young and they are strong. I had two dogs while the smaller one was walked separately. After a days worth of work and the extra walk it made for a tiring day in which I thought for sure I would crash from. Instead I was tired enough that I didn’t actually sleep that well, so today I was significantly more tired. Don’t get me wrong I love to work out, I love to push the limits of what my body can do and I thought that I listen to my body, but yesterday it didn’t tell me much of anything until I realized I was not moving as well as I should.

So when my hubby and I took our dogs for a walk there was a protest coming from the leg region. It was more of a scream that mellowed into a yell that moved into my whole body talking. I had heard a while ago that chocolate milk is wonderful for helping with sore muscles. Not sure I believe it since my body still feels the same but I got to have a yummy drink to try it out. I resorted to Tylenol and a lot of water.

No pain, no gain right? Exercising for me is a release. There are days when work is a bit more stressful. There are days when the family just doesn’t get along. There are days in which I don’t feel like myself without getting a workout in. Walking can only do so much. When there is a challenge to try something new, or get to a heavier weight the drive is what pushes me to go further. The outcome is more confidence and a stronger body and system. It drives me to want to be healthier for myself so then I can be there longer for my family.

Christmas is right around the corner. We are travelling to be around loved ones. We are trying to beat the storm that is threatening to come. We have planning and waiting. We have a bit of stress that comes with the unknown. I know for me I will release some stress by getting some movement in. I will challenge my body and work out the kinks of the last few days. Some people eat their way through stress, while others work more. I push my body to it’s limits and that means there are days where even the slightest movements hurt. The endorphins are worth it though. I am happier and more content. This Christmas season try and remember that we celebrate because of a birth that ultimately will save us from all of our pains and sorrows. Find your outlet to get through any stressors that come but enjoy the times you have with your loved ones. Until next time:

I will beat her.

I will train harder, I will eat cleaner

I know her weaknesses, I know her strengths. I have lost to her before

But not this time, she is going down

I have the advantage because I know her well

She is the Old Me

Will It Ruin Your Day?

When I was younger I would have moments in which I would get very upset. It could be over an injustice that happened between my siblings and I or the fac that I didn’t get to have the item I swore I wanted so badly and couldn’t live without. It really could have been about anything. I would try and hold onto my bad moods just so that I could make sure the people around me knew I wasn’t happy. Then my mom (probably out of being tired of my attitude) pulled me aside one day and plainly let me know that even though I wasn’t getting what I wanted it was my choice to let it ruin my day. I was told I had a choice, which I probably knew deep down but once my mom wisely brought it to the service I had to face it. I had to face the fact that for whatever reason I wasn’t going to get “x,y or z”. I could chose to make people not want to be around me because I was upset, or I could chose to let it go, and find my way back to a better day.

My kids (mainly my daughters) yesterday had to make this very choice. We have this nativity scene that is an advent calendar. We got this about two years ago and told the kids that they every third day (three kids) it was their turn to put the object of the day where it needed to go. My middle child likes to be different and go against the grain sometimes and so she does things like put the sheep up in the sky vs. where it belongs. My oldest likes order, after a discussion they agreed that if this would happen only one animal could be put in the sky, all the other animals needed to be placed where they go around the nativity scene. My middle child did not follow this agreement and an argument came from it.

We had plans made and places to go. We had to do them together. After the yelling match one girl went one way, one went the other and I was stuck in the middle trying to calm my nerves. Did this need a yelling match? Absolutely not, but this is what happened and so we needed to calm down from it. From that point on it was like I was listening to my mom again as the same words she said to me I was saying to my girls. I let them know they had to chose to let this moment ruin their day or they could move on from it and enjoy the day.

Happily they gave it a shot, we loaded into the car and heading to do the errands we had which included the library which is something they both wanted to get to. There are times when the wisdom of my momma is louder in my head. She was and still is a quiet woman, but a force to be reckoned with, especially when you are a kid determined to get her way. There are times when I think my kids took the rulebook and threw it out the window. They have challenged me as a momma in more ways then I ever thought I would be challenged, but I wouldn’t change it, because in the larger sense I needed to make my own choice. Do I allow these challenges to ruin my days as a momma or do I embrace them for what they are and chose to enjoy the moments that are always scattered in between the challenges? My family is full of people who but heads, get loud, and love each other fiercely. We pull together quicker than a hedgehog curling into a ball (it’s fast, trust me).

This Christmas we are doing our normal routine, with people that have changed over this last year. I am looking forward to Christmas Eve and the service at the church, even though I know one of my kids won’t be there. I am looking forward to Christmas morning in which my son with read the Christmas story from Luke and then we will open presents. Instead of it being at 7:30 in the morning it will be closer to 9 on the request of my middle child who loves to sleep in. We will visit family afterwards, getting there by packing up the car with all five of us, two crazy dogs and a hamster who I am sure will not like the choice we have made for her, but it’s an adventure for sure. We plan on the end of our trip having our oldest test for her driving permit so that she can start her own journey of driving and getting herself to the places she would like to go.

Each day we wake up, we get ourselves ready for the day, and we have to harness our thoughts to be more positive then negative. It is so much easier to just let our thoughts go where they will, but when we decide to look for the good, look for the positive and the beauty around us we will feel better, we will treat ourselves and those around us better. Our outlook will be more uplifting which will help us get through the days that are not easy to get through. This Christmas season, I hope that the stress of the season doesn’t overpower the reason for the season. We are celebrating a birth! We are rejoicing with the angels! We have been given a gift that can’t be forgotten about, so let’s chose to focus on the good, and the joy that comes with it. Until next time:

And behold, and angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them,  "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger"  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
         "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"    Luke 2:9-14

Will They Ever Learn?

We had just sat down for dinner, we were having our normal loud family dinner talks (since we don’t really know how to be quiet in this house). As dinner progress we heard a commotion in the kitchen. Charlie our “puppy” decided once again to take on our cat Lilly. As Charlie tries to back her into a corner, Lilly fights back with hissing and slapping, in which Charlie thinks is playtime. Charlie only backs down when the actual claws come out. This is a scene that happens more often than not in our house. Lilly leaves the comfort of whatever room she is in, gets noticed usually by Charlie first and then Jorj and then all bets are off. Lilly always wins. Charlie always gets her nose slapped and will probably never learn.

This seems to be a sequence that happens with dogs and skunks except that usually the outcome in much more stinky. I know sometimes the dog wins but usually the skunk runs off as the scent of “victory” is left behind. Some dogs are granted access inside the house only to be thrown into the nearest bathroom to be hosed down with the magical skunk spray removal. Owners (including myself the first time) naively think that their beloved pet will learn from this stinky mistake, until the next time it happens.

I was sitting on the couch the other day when my son decided to play a “prank” on his older sister. Sadly of my three kids these two don’t get along very well. Most days they tolerate each other, but for the most part if there is going to be an argument in the house it will be between these two. My daughter was outside collecting sticks for a project she was doing. My son decided it would be fun to hold the door shut when he saw that she was coming in. This didn’t turn out very well, she got in, yelled at him and huffed away. This is not a new thing, and you would think my son would learn, but he has way too much mischief to stop.

We must all be insane in this house, since even the great Albert Einstein defined it as doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. My dogs will never learn to leave the cat alone. Dogs and even some cats can’t seem to learn when you mess with a skunk you are going to get sprayed. My son will always do something to annoy his sister and his sister will always have a quick comeback to that annoyance. My hubby will always try and fix things and I will always assume that he will try and fix any problem that is said out loud. Teenagers will always think that they are right, and at least for me I will look at them and think I used to be that way too.

I think on some levels we will learn. We will grow and stop doing the stupid things we did. Sometimes it’s fun not to “learn from the experience”. If Charlie the pup could talk she would probably tell us how fun it is to chase and bug the cat. When the skunk puts up a fight or starts running I bet every dog out there thinks “YES let’s go!” For the rest of us, maturity will help us to learn, experiences will help us to learn, but we can probably say that we actually did learn. Until next time:

Some of the best lessons we ever learn were learned from past mistakes. The error of the past is the wisdom and success of the future.

Dale Turner

Make Your Bed

When I was little my mom used to tell me to make my bed. I hated to do it because I figured I would just be using it again in a few hours so what’s the point? I had better things to do like play outside, play down the street, basically just get out of the house so that I wouldn’t be asked to do silly things like make my bed. I carried that train of thought with my all through my school days until I moved away and went to college. At that point I had to share a room with a gal who was a bit more messy than I was and though it didn’t bother me a great deal it made me see that getting myself a bit more motivated to do even the smallest things, helped with the bigger things.

In my last couple of years in college I moved in with a set of girls that I loved. We were all different but that was exactly what helped us get along so well. School was getting to the more difficult stage when I was getting ready to graduate and I had to really focus on the projects and goals I had to accomplish, and at times I was a bit overwhelmed. I had read somewhere that if you just made your bed in the morning that simple task would help you feel accomplished throughout the day. Let me tell you it helped me. I was able to get up get ready for the day, and make my bed. I finished a small simple task. That helped me to move to the next task I needed to get done, and then the next and so on. I would get home from campus and go into my room knowing that at least in there I had control of what it looked like, what was in there and how things looked. Chaos could be going on right outside my door, but I could handle it better because there was order in my room.

Fast forward to married/family life. I love my family to no end. They are my world, but I still have to remind myself not to throw them out on their kesters because they once again left earrings on the coffee table, headphones on the kitchen counter, painting supplies on the radio and hand tools in the bathroom. Every morning as part of my routine I make our bed. When I need to get to a quiet place with some order I head to my bedroom. There is always noise and activity going on in our home and I love that our home is full of laughter, love and (not that I love this part) some raised voices. I accomplished a small task every morning, and that helps propel me into accomplishing more tasks throughout the day.

One day I know my kids will be on their own. They will have their own places to live and places to thrive. I know they will take some things they were taught with them, other lessons will be lost into oblivion. With how many times I asked them to clean their rooms and make their beds I hope they will see it wasn’t just because I wanted a clean house. When a small task is accomplished, it can give you a since of pride. When I went through a stage of my life when panic attacks were a constant, I had to find something I could control. I never knew when the attacks would hit, and at the time I didn’t really understand the importance of breathing through them, researching them so that I could have a small grasp at pushing through one because I knew what I was feeling wasn’t rational thoughts. It was a hard time, trying to be normal, and do normal things while being in a state of uncertainty. I got help, I left the place that ultimately was the start of the problem, but I learned to from the experience that we as individuals need something(s) that we can control. Something that we can check off that we did that in some way gave us normalcy for our day.

Mine was making sure I had a spot in my house in which I could escape to when I felt overwhelmed, when I needed peace, when I needed to be by myself for a bit. I needed to have a non-chaotic place and my bedroom became that once again. Try making your bed each morning, clear off your dresser and dust it, vacuum a rug, find a mundane everyday chore that can be done and just do it. It may not seem like it helps but if you go out and do your day, and nothing goes the way you planned, or the projects don’t get all the way done like you thought they should, you can come home knowing you got at least one thing done. It does help. It’s simple, but it may keep you from going crazy especially with the Christmas season in our mist. Until next time:

Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity and a greater sense of well-being.

Charles Duhigg

How Important Is It?

While on our walk this morning my hubby and I were talking about our youngest and how he can remember everything there is to remember about Fortnite even to the extent when the next big event will be and what he’ll have to do to make sure he has his computer time scheduled to be there for it. It’s an amazing thing how the brain works, even better how the memory works. Last night our youngest had his chore of the dishes to do. This job includes wiping down the counters, stove, and making sure that all of the dishes are collected and washed. This morning when we got back from our walk, and our son got up for the day, we had him wash the counters, stove and collect the dirty dishes that were missed from the night before.

Selective memory at it’s best. The dishes were not important to him and so they did not get done completely. Even threatening to take away some of his allowance didn’t change the fact that the chore is still not getting finished. It’s not just him that has the selective memory or hearing for that matter. Most people will do what is the highest priority to them first especially when it benefits them. I have learned the hard way when someone doesn’t see it as important they will do what they can to stall or find a way not to do what it is that is asked of them. Sadly this leaves the tasks for others to do.

This past week it was very difficult for me to get motivated to do my workouts. It’s not that I didn’t want to do them. I actually feel better after they are done, but it was the motivation to set up my mat, get the weights out and turn on the app I use. I had some nights that had been a bit more restless, and days where I doubted the job I was doing. That leaked into the activities I held in high importance. I was tired, but in a worn down type of way, I was allowing the worry that usually resides in the back of my mind to come to the surface, and I was letting the way others act get in the way of my joy. You guys, I really get a lot of joy out of working out. There is a routine call the flamingo in which you do Yoga moves all using one leg at a time. There is a lot of balance that goes into this routine, and a lot of strength required from each leg. It is a challenge, it’s rewarding when you can get through the whole routine without falling (I almost made it through one time), and it’s one that if you really get into it makes you realize how cool your body really is.

I could have chosen to just sit around until I had to go to work. I could have taken a break from working out for the week. I had to evaluate how important the time I used for working out was to me. Was it worth it to give it up? My priority had to be on keeping myself normalized so that I could face the abnormal around me. Devotions, working out, intermitted fasting, and reading books all keep me grounded. My family and my work are a normal part of my life but it’s the crazy part. I wouldn’t change it but by doing my activities that are about me, I can face the ones that include me.

The Christmas season is here. This is the first week of December and it has been declared by my middle daughter that now we can actually start talking about Christmas. The lights have already been put up, and in some homes the tree has too. The poor delivery guys are gearing up for all of the packages that need to be delivered. All I can think about is, what is important to me in this holiday season? What is my priority and do I have a selective memory/hearing problem? I can feel the rush of trying to get the shopping done (though every January I pledge to start my shopping for Christmas early). I can feel the anticipation of what the work Christmas parties will be like. I can hope that my kids will remember that the real reason for the Christmas season is Christ, and I can chose to pound it into their heads or show them in the actions I show them. I look forward to the Christmas Eve services at church just so that I can sing/cry my way through Silent Night while holding a battery operated candle.

How important is it to take care of yourself? Very! How important is it to do your job and do it well, whether it’s dishes or surgery? So very important. How important is it to show love through actions and words? As important as it is to breathe. Until next time:

So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.

Marillyn Monroe

Did this just happen?

This past week my middle child turned another year older, my hubby did as well and we celebrated another year married. All in the timeframe of a week. We also had Thanksgiving thrown into the mix because why not?

When I was growing up we would joke about the fact that April was busier than the holidays purely for the fact that almost everyone in the family had a birthday in April. This has shifted to November/December months for my family now. While we enjoy celebrating the birthdays and the holidays it also means there is more planning, more baking and more socializing. All of these are good things but when they come at you all at once in a time span of a 2 month period it can be a little much for a semi-introvert like myself.

This past week my wonderful hubby surprised me with a get away to a hotel in town. We both work, and the kids were home for the Thanksgiving break so he knew we had to do something local. The fact that he planned it is not all too weird, he likes to do these little getaways for me. I forget that he knows me better than I know myself sometimes. I have been in a kind of stressed state in which I walk the line sometimes on being overwhelmed. So he planned a hotel stay with take out Chinese food. There was a hot tub in the room which made the night so much nicer. We were able to talk, we were able to discuss family life, work like, our lives without the kids having to have our attention. It was a reset button for me, so that I could move forward less on the verge of stressing out.

I absolutely love the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. My middle daughter would say that the Christmas music needs to wait until at least December but I find myself craving it, especially when it’s sung at church. I get the chance to look beyond myself and see that there is more to life than work, and stress, and family and life issues. There is a celebration of life! Birthdays help with this each time they come around, but the birthday for Christmas reminds me that I don’t have to have life all together, I can just be me, trusting that Christ has me figured out and knows what my future holds. That is peace in times of chaos. Celebrating does bring a in the fact that need that baking needs to happen! Baking: the smells, the licks of the spoons and the beaters, the new recipes working out, I just get so excited to bake.

This year is no different. My eldest daughter had me bake a cake, which included cake pops. My middle child wanted Oreo bark and a cake for her birthday that looked like it was made out of stone. My youngest suggested pumpkin bread which was made but just had to have pumpkin frosting, and the leftover pumpkin turned into pumpkin muffins and pumpkin cheesecake. I “accidentally” bought too much cream cheese so that turned into Oreo cheesecake bites covered in chocolate. There is still the cinnamon rolls, the toffee, and the fudge. Sadly with all the baking, it can’t all be eaten by my family and I so my co-workers, and friends will have to help.

This past weekend we had friends drive through our small town so we planned a dinner with them and their kids. I didn’t have much time to bake, but that didn’t stop the homemade salsa and street tacos from being made up. This is the first of many little gatherings, I always look forward to them until the day of and the my inner introvert comes out and tries to make excuses as to why we should not be social. This has always been the case with me until the friends come and then I enjoy every minute with them . I love the thought of being a host, until I have to do it, funny how that is. We had a good visit, the tacos went over well and they were able to get a homemade meal which always helps when eating out happens more on the road.

December is going to go by quick. The kids will go back to school for maybe two weeks before they are out for two weeks. We will travel, and people will travel to us. Christmas parties will happen at our respective jobs and the kids will have some festivities at school. January will come sooner than what we anticipate. So the hope is that each moment is experienced and enjoyed. There is a hope that the recipes all turn out well and if they don’t that they are tried again with better results. Hope is high that when we get together with our friends and families that we enjoy each others company, that no one gets sick and that touchy subjects get left out in the cold. Until next time:

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him. Psalms 28:7

So Very Thankful

This week made me wonder what it was that I was really thankful for. Actually it’s been longer than this week but since Thanksgiving falls within the next few hours I thought I would spout out what makes me so joy filled and thankful.

My faith is my foundation, it has kept me from having anxiety run full force. There is a peace in that. There is a joy in laying down my worries and fears at the feet of Christ. I get to have peace and a sense of Thanksgiving always. There are many sacrifices, but they are what bring me to my knees in prayer. The blessings drop me to my knees as well.

A few weeks back a family member had to start chemotherapy. Not something I should be thankful for, but I am so very thankful that the cancer was found and that treatments could be started. I am in awe of the power of the faith she has and through all of this she shines for the Lord and pushes on.

I am thankful for the wise women that have surrounded me. We lean on each other, laugh together, talk, pray, love each other and our families. We push each other to be better. I could not imagine going through life without “my girls”. They are fellow mommas, a sister who is a solid foundation, grandmas, wise friends, and prayer warriors.

Have I ever said how awesome my hubby and kids are? We are for from perfect, we are learning to grow together. Stress and worry cause grey hairs to flow. My idea of how my kids would grow up has been blown out of the water, but they were brought up with a firm foundation. We have each other. It is crazy how having 4 humans and 3 animals can drive me to insanity and calm me all in the same scenario. I couldn’t ask for a better family.

Have you ever had a job that you love going to? I get to go every day to a job that fills me with a sense of pride, I don’t see it as a burden to show up. It’s not always easy, there are ups and downs. There are snuggles with cats and twirling of floppy ears. The squak of a macaw is mixed with the squeak of a Guinea pig. I get to work with people I consider family, and sometimes I see them more than my actual family. We laugh together, cry together and stand up for each other.

Sometimes when life gets crazy and a bit overwhelming taking a step back and a big deep breath, can help, but when you start to count your blessings you can start to see all the things you can be thankful for. This morning I woke up, the sun was shining, the dogs were cuddled in between us, and I was warm. Simple blessings that are welcomed in a life that isn’t always so simple. What are you thankful for? Until next time:

Be cheerful no matter what;  thank God no matter what happens.  This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.  1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 MSG

In the Blink of an Eye

In the blink of an eye, or a least in the quiver of an eyelid my dog Charlie was let out of her kennel, was in between my hubby and I and snuggled under the blankets with my neck as her pillow. She was so happy. She is a simple dog, feed her, love her, play with her and let her snuggle in and she will love you until you come home from work in scrubs. Then all bets are off.

In the blink of an eye the weather in the southern part of the state I live in goes from beautiful, warm, sunny days that beckon you to go do something, anything really outside. We woke up this morning to 18 degrees. I have a blanket on my bed that is so heavy when I try and pull it up to the headboard in the morning (to just make my bed) I have to be careful not to punch myself in the face if I accidently loose my hold on it. My sweet hubby decided one day to dig it out of the hope chest so that we could have some extra warmth. You guys, this thing is a homemade quilt he made with his grandma that is all denim. It’s the original weighted blanket. Add flannel to the mix and you do not move, but I stay warm, and for my hubby if he doesn’t have to listen to me whine about being cold he’s happy.

In the blink of an eye an illness can escalate to hospitalization and worry as family watches their loved one go through tests and scans and all sorts of procedures to find out what happened. It’s scary and when the person gets to go home the worry doesn’t stop, but the joy of going home helps ease the load somewhat. Over the last week there have been phone calls and texts from different people and families telling of worrisome illnesses and problems that need prayer. As the recipient of the calls and texts you feel somewhat helpless in what to do. If you believe in the power of prayer (which I do) you continue praying. There is a sense of wanting to do more physically though. Bringing food, holding a hand, watching a child, something to ease the load for the person going through the ordeal. In a blink of an eye, all the things that seemed important in the moment get shoved aside to try and help the person in need.

In the blink of an eye, the leaves fall the Christmas decorations a put up, the baking starts and people start to realize how close the holiday is and how little they have prepared themselves for it. I absolutely love the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. I absolutely hate having to shop for them. Thanksgiving is easier of course because it’s about getting the right sized turkey and making sure we have a paper bag big enough to cook it in. Christmas though, the whole meaning of it seems to get lost in the commercialism of it. I am not going to get on a soapbox other than to say this. Spend time with your loved ones, instead of stressing out over the matter of what to get them. I can’t tell you what I received as gifts over the years as much as I can tell you about the trip to California with my family, the snow sledding day we had last year, the day we spend going out to the woods to get the Christmas tree. Material things will get forgotten, memories and the joy of time spent with loved ones will last.

In the blink of an eye, the year flies by, the kids are a year older, the grey hair has decided to show up again, the car starts acting weird, the pumpkin you have been trying to use up finally gets used. How are you dealing with the happenings of life? Do you stick you head in the sand (like I have wanted to do so many times), or do you face things as they come. Do you enjoy the moments, the snuggles the playtimes and the “real talks” with your teens? Do you worry and fret, or do you pray and continuously hand your worries over to the Lord. In the blink of any eye, can seem so quick when you look back, when you are in the moment it can seem like an time stands still. For joyous occasions what a joy to have time stand still, stamp those memories in your heart and use those times for when the soul needs rest. Until next time:

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news that will cause great JOY for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
Luke 2: 10-12

Baking season!

It’s a strange thing that happens inside my brain. I go into baking mode from November 1st, through Christmas. I dig out old recipes and find new ones on Pinterest. It is something about the weather and the ability to make so many different treats from breads to candies all in the spirit of the seasons.

This year a friend of mine gave my five pumpkins. Three of them went to the kids for Jack o’ Lanterns but the other two, they were made into pumpkin muffins, breads and rolls all with a touch of cheesecake or frosting on them to help add to the appeal. I love putting together fun treats and sharing them with those around me. Now if only I could get my family to jump on board and let me spend the whole weekend baking while they clean the dishes for a part of the baked goods.

When I was younger it was a treat to bake. We would usually pull out a recipe or two from our Great Aunt Lila’s stash and try and re-create what she probably could make blindfolded. One such recipe was for cinnamon rolls. Through the eyes of a young child all the steps that were needed to make the rolls seemed daunting. From getting the dough ready to having to wait the hour plus to let it rise. Then making sure to get the proper amount of filling made so that when the rolls are finally done the are oozing with cinnamon sugar goodness. Then when the task of making the rolls was done preparing the frosting that is smeared on top of each roll, oh man, it seemed so hard back then, but now it’s a way to spend time doing something you love.

Cookies were another treat we would make but honestly half that batter would end up in our bellies before getting baked into cookies. Whoever said don’t eat cookie batter probably just wanted to keep all the batter to themselves. As a grown up I am so much more responsible when it comes to raw eggs and batter, if the kids don’t see me eating it, all the better, then I don’t have to explain why they can’t =).

Speaking of the kids, you know what brings a family together when it’s cold outside? The smell of cookies in the oven and the invitation to help make Oreo bark, chocolate truffles, and pudding. It’s true what “they” say if you work for it you will appreciate it better. I usually let the kids pick one thing they want to make and then let them at it. One of my daughters loves making Oreo bark. When I asked if she wanted help crushing the Oreos she said no with a twinkle in her eye as she grabs the rolling pin and a gallon bag. The rule is: you make it you have to share but you get the first and last bite.

My son is at the stage where if it looks like it will taste good he wants to try it. Once he asked to have us buy him some orange marmalade because of a video he watched. Needless to say we still have that jar, and it is missing one spoonful from it. What does one do with marmalade anyways? His latest thing he wanted to try was pumpkin bread. Great! As I said earlier I have pumpkin. So I thought, why not do muffins instead and swirl in some cheesecake? He helped me make them, but then refused to try them because of the cheesecake and the fact that they were not “bread” sigh….

Did you know that pumpkin bread had pumpkin in it? I did in fact have to inform my son that it did, so when I did make the bread I made him try it. When he stated he didn’t like it, I suggested trying it with the pumpkin frosting I made, guess what? He loves pumpkin bread now, with a hefty dose of frosting on top of course.

My oldest is too cool for school so when it comes to baking with her, well I have to convince her that she should help out. I also have to convince her that exact measurements are always needed. I mean when a cup of chocolate chips is called for, it really is ok to add more than that. Same idea when it comes to cinnamon and sugar, frosting, or cheesecake. If you ever want to annoy her just start eating the batter before she is ready to cook it. I still have a lot to train her on I know. Baking is all about the process, the taste testing (to make sure the product is not poisoned of course ;)), the baking, the eating of the final product.

What better way to warm up the house than using the oven. What better way to spread joy than to share what you have made with others. I know my brain is probably remembering back to when I was a kid and the joy that came from baking. I love that I get to bake now and share the joy with my kids, share the goodies with others and create editable joy. I am excited for Thanksgiving to come, I will get to finally use up all my pumpkin. What are some of your favorite baking past times? What are some of your favorite recipes? Until next time:

Homemade with love, in other words I liked the spoon and kept using it.

Don’t be afraid to stand out

Weekends are for doing things with the family and getting stuff done that doesn’t get done during the week, at least in my family this is the case. Normally my son has all sorts of plans for things to do:

  • Go to the movies
  • Go to the dirt bike trails at the local park
  • Reserve the escape room
  • Play video games all day
  • Make a cake
  • Make pumpkin bread
  • Play a board game

The lists can go on and on. We try our hardest to do most things he suggests because we don’t get to spend a lot of time together during the week and yes, I admit he is the youngest and at times I feel bad for him because he gets thrown into the semi-adult/adult world with having two older sisters and his parents mainly who he is around.

This week it was going to the movies. He wanted to see the movie “Clifford, the big red dog”. While we were in the car I asked him why this movie and he just said “because I liked the book when I was a kid”. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the movie, but figured it would be fun to see and spend some time with my little man. So with the biggest bag of popcorn and the largest slushy we could get we could get we found our seats and settled in for the hour plus movie

I forget sometimes (ok a lot of times) what it means to be a kid. This was a fun movie and actually it had a good lesson about standing up for yourself even when you’re scared or the situation is hard. A lesson I needed to hear for sure, I just didn’t think it would come from a movie about a bright red dog. Tyler and I don’t spend as much time as I would like together because to be truthful I suck at computer games and he is really good at them so he plays them a lot. I tend to sit on the sidelines and listen in to the conversations he has with is friends and the laughter that is shared. The movie “forced” me to sit and enjoy. I laughed and shed a tear or two and I did it with my boy. So about that lesson though, life isn’t always easy. Standing out and being different usually makes people uncomfortable. We like things to be the same, for people to act the way we feel they should act.

I feel like I have had to face more things in this last year that I didn’t think I would have to face. Some of it I deal with and move on. It’s when there is something so out of the norm for me, it seems to stick with me and stays in the back of my mind, causing my already almost full cup to completely spill over when I stop to think about it. I have wonderful friends and family that try and help when I feel overwhelmed, but to be honest, the thing that hits me the most is change, that and the fear of the unknown. Then a lesson is taught to me from a cute little movie my son wanted me to see with him.

Just because something is different and out of the norm, it doesn’t mean that we should force it into conforming to what we want it to be. Being different is one of the wonderful things about being who we are. When someone doesn’t like it, it’s because they are afraid of what they don’t know. I admit I fall into this trap, even though when I was younger I made it a point to stand out. I stood for what I believed in, I fought for who I thought was the underdog, when someone told me I couldn’t do something I would do it. I like to think I haven’t changed much from back then but I know that now I do these things but in more subdued ways. The one with the loudest voice isn’t the one we should always listen to. God usually whispers when He is trying to get our attention, if anything He should be the only one we listen to.

Stand out and be different. Enjoy the ride of life, but be smart about it, and above all know there is a time for standing out, and a time to ride out what comes your way. Until next time:

...and these are but the outer fringe of His works; how faint the whisper we hear of Him!  Who then can understand the thunder of His power?   Job 26:14

What’s a little grey?

I was looking at pictures of myself lately and I noticed a bit more grey than what I thought I had. Not that this is a bad thing, it’s just a bit shocking since the mirror doesn’t show as much as pictures do if that makes sense? It could be that in some of these pictures I was with my daughter who doesn’t have a bit of grey, and she is significantly younger than me, which tells my brain that maybe just maybe I might be getting older.

With age comes beauty right? I think with age comes the ability to see the beauty inside. Flipping through the pictures in my phone I see the aging process happen and I love the outcome of the process. Yes I will probably still dye my hair, mainly because it’s fun, but it helps a little with my self care. I already feel tired and old, especially after a long week at work, I don’t need to look the part. I have actually seen more Instagram posts of people embracing the grey and good for them, they look adorable and beautiful.

Then there is the pug that is all the rage with the young people Noodles I think is his name. The gentleman that owns him goes onto his social media sites, and basically plans his day based on what his pug does. Now this is sweet in itself since the pug is older and this is probably a way for the owner to cope with the fact that Noodle may not be around much longer. The way it works though is this sweet, older, greying pug is placed on his bed or on a surface, if he stands and tries to get around it will be a productive day. If Mr. Noodles decides to just lay there and look cute the day will be a rest day. I really think there is something here, I mean I have said it in past posts, that we really should start acting like our dogs. This owner just took it a step further and showed us what that meant. Seriously though, maybe we should take the hint and follow our dogs examples more, plus you ever notice how endearing our pets looks when the grey sneaks into their muzzles?

Charlie our dog has no grey anywhere on her, she is pure white with a brown spot here and there on her body. She is a cuddle bug and full of energy. She loves to prance around the house when she has something in her mouth. The girl cannot lie! We know by her prance that we should go looking into her mouth to dig out whatever it is she picked up. Luckily lately it’s the random leaf that was found on the ground. She is pure innocent, wrapped in a bottle rocket of energy. She is the epitome of pure joy. She wasn’t always that way, but from where she was a year ago, to what she is today is amazing! So what if we were to mix the energy and the joy of Charlie with the contentment of Noodles? I don’t think we need a post to determine what way we should go.

What would it look like to be content with you life, waking up each morning deciding to live life with joy? I am not the same person I was when I was 20 or even 30, thankfully. When I have conversations with my daughters I get a glimpse of what my mentality was at their age. Going grey means I have grown up. I have had many more experiences and I have matured. This doesn’t mean I can’t have the childlike innocence like Charlie my dog has. There is just knowledge behind it now. Adventures cause me to get all gitty inside, but if there is a day that I can curl up under a blanket and read I will take that too. I chose joy on most days. Hardships in life try and take that from me, watching my kids make choices I don’t fully understand causes more greys to pop out. Hearing about friends being sick or getting hurt can put a kink in the joy, but then I remember that I am not in control. I need to protect the joy I have, get on my knees and speak to the One that ultimately is in control of everything. Grey can be covered (if you want to). Joy comes from finding the peace from knowing you don’t have to be in control. Until next time:

Negativity is contagious. Unhappiness is contagious. Fear is contagious. But so is happiness. So is optimism. So is love. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. And strive to be a reflection of what you want to receive.

Michelle C. Clark
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